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EU urges sides in Russia-Ukraine gas row to fulfill commitments

RIA Novosti

05/01/2009 13:27 BRUSSELS, January 5 (RIA Novosti) - The EU urged both Moscow and Kiev to fulfill their commitments on gas supplies and transit to Europe ahead of an extraordinary meeting of EU envoys on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine gas dispute in Brussels on Monday.

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on Thursday after last-ditch talks with Kiev on a new deal for 2009 and debt repayments failed late on New Year's Eve. Some European countries, including Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania, have reported drops in Russian gas supplied through Ukraine's pipeline network.

The meeting has been organized by the Czech Republic, which took over the European Union presidency on January 1. However, the EU is reluctant to be dragged into the latest war of words similar to the cut in Russian gas to Ukraine in 2006.

The EU receives 80% of all its Russian gas via Ukraine.

The Czech deputy prime minister, Alexander Vondra, said earlier that "Russia and Ukraine must [resolve the dispute] quickly. There is no other way to solve the conflict. We refuse to be part of this dispute."

Gazprom CEO, Alexei Miller, said at a Gazprom meeting that "consumers in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Poland and the Balkans had registered unauthorized gas tapping on Ukrainian territory," adding that the company would ensure additional gas supplies were pumped to Europe.

Ukraine's state-run Naftogaz denied it was siphoning gas and accused Gazprom of cutting deliveries to Europe to cause a shortfall.

Greece and the Czech Republic were the latest EU countries to report drops in Russian gas supplies from Ukraine. RWE Transgas said that deliveries had been cut by 5%, while Greece's gas operator DEPA said deliveries were down by a third.

A DEPA official was cited by Reuters as saying that the company had been informed by Russia that "we would receive only 4 million cubic meters of natural gas compared to our request for 6 million cubic meters, due to the dispute," adding that shortfalls would be compensated by deliveries via Turkey.

Both Gazprom and Ukraine's state-run Naftogaz have said that they will file lawsuits with the Stockholm Arbitration Court, which deals with international commercial legal disputes.

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