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Russia to restore Europe’s gas supply

Published on 03/01/2006

3 January 2006

BRUSSELS — Russia was to restore full gas supplies to European states on Tuesday, effectively easing a blockade on Ukraine.

The decision comes after several European countries in a line from Serbia to Germany complained on Monday that their supply had fallen as a result of the Russian blockade.

And as Washington warned Moscow against using energy as a political tool, Russia bowed to the pressure and agreed to restore supplies close to normal levels, Reuters reported.

However, Moscow also accused Kiev of stealing gas from the pipeline crossing its territory to Europe. Ukraine denied the allegations, but warned it would start tapping into European gas supplies if temperatures dropped markedly.

Russian gas company Gazprom had cut supply to Ukraine on Sunday in a dispute over plans to quadruple gas prices — a sharp break with subsidised prices dating back to Soviet times.

Ukraine claimed the decision was in response to Kiev’s moves to distance itself from Russia’s influence amid its desire to strengthen ties with Nato and the EU
The dispute raised fears of gas shortages in Western Europe despite assurances from major gas suppliers Gaz de France and the German E.O.N. on Monday.

And later on Monday, Hungary — which had suffered a 40 percent cut in supplies — and Austria — which lost a third of its feed — announced full restoration of pipeline deliveries.

Belgian branch organisation Distrigas had earlier ruled out fears of gas shortages in Belgium. Gas companies here buy very little gas from Russia. Belgium imports its gas needs primarily from Norway, Algeria and the Netherlands.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news