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Ukraine shuts off all gas supplies to Europe - Gazprom

RIA Novosti

07/01/2009 11:29 BERLIN/KIEV, January 7 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine on Wednesday shut off the fourth and final pipeline pumping Russian gas to Europe, Gazprom deputy head Alexander Medvedev said.

Ukraine's national energy company Naftogaz said the Russian energy giant had stopped supplying gas to Ukrainian pipes so there was no way for it to continue deliveries to Europe.

"Deliveries through the Sudzha station were reduced to zero at 7:44 a.m. [05:44 GMT]." Naftogaz press secretary Valentin Zemlyansky told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

The latest closure added Austria, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia to the growing list of countries receiving no Russian gas. The three other pipelines were closed on Tuesday, ending deliveries via Ukraine to Hungary, Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, and Bosnia. Supplies to Italy, Poland, France and Slovenia are seriously disrupted.

Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on January 1 after talks with Kiev on a new deal for 2009 and debt repayments failed late on New Year's Eve. Naftogaz said on Tuesday that discussions would resume on Thursday.

According to Gazprom, Ukraine failed to deliver 65.3 million cubic meters of gas to consumers in Europe from January 1-4, and the Russian gas monopoly demanded that Kiev make up the shortfall.

The Gazprom official spokesman said on Wednesday that Ukraine had stolen another 21 million cubic meters of gas.

"In the past 24 hours under the pretext of technical requirements Naftogaz has stolen 21 million cubic meters more gas intended for delivery to Europe," Sergei Kupriyanov said on Vesti news TV channel. "In these conditions we have no choice but to reduce deliveries by 21 million cubic meters."

European Commission members and the leaders of the Czech Republic, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, will meet in Prague later on Wednesday to discuss the gas conflict between Russia and Ukraine, a source in the European Commission told RIA Novosti.

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