Russia halts all gas deliveries to Europe

7th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Europe is left without gas as Russia ends all gas shipments that pass through Ukrainian territory on Wednesday.

KIEV – Russia on Wednesday halted all shipments of its gas bound for European customers that pass through Ukrainian territory, a spokesman for Ukraine's state gas company Naftogaz told AFP.

"Russia stopped all transit through Ukraine" at 7:44 am (0544 GMT), said Naftogaz spokesman Valentin Zemlyansky.

"Russia has left Europe without gas," he added.

The move marked a severe escalation in the Russia-Ukraine gas crisis that had already led 17 European countries to report gas shortages as of Tuesday and threatened to cause further disruptions in the depths of winter.

Russia - the world's largest natural gas supplier - accuses Ukraine of stealing gas bound for Europe, while Kiev denies siphoning off gas and blames Moscow for engineering the crisis.

On Monday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered state-run energy giant Gazprom to reduce gas shipments via Ukraine by amounts equivalent to what Moscow has accused Kiev of stealing.

Talks between the two sides are due to resume Thursday as the European Union has become increasing concerned about the crisis, which began 1 January when Russia cut gas supplies to Ukraine's domestic market.

Some 80 percent of Russian gas exports to the EU pass through Ukraine.

[AFP / Expatica]

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