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Russia to Pump Gas to Europe When International Monitors in Place

By VOA News
08 January 2009

Russia says it will resume pumping natural gas through Ukraine to Europe when international observers start monitoring gas flow through Ukrainian pipelines.

The chief of Russia' state-run energy firm Gazprom, Alexei Miller, took that position after European Union-sponsored talks in Brussels Thursday.

Miller said he will also hold further face-to-face talks with Oleh Dubina, the head of Ukraine's gas utility, Naftohaz. He said the crisis, which has left most European countries without adequate gas supplies, must be resolved today.

Hours after Miller's comments, EU officials said Ukraine had signed a monitor deployment deal, but Russia had not. Officials said the problem involved Russian demands for including their country's observers in the EU teams.

Russia, which supplies a quarter of all gas consumed in EU countries, on Wednesday cut off all gas supplies piped through Ukraine to the West.

Moscow wants Ukraine to pay the full market price for gas. But Ukraine says that fee is double what it is prepared to pay.

Earlier today, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, who hosted the Brussels talks, said the crisis raises serious doubts about the reliability of Russia as an energy supplier.

Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for the crisis. Moscow has accused Ukraine of siphoning pipeline gas meant for Europe, while Ukraine says Russia simply stopped shipments.

Ukraine also accuses Russia of refusing to negotiate rising pipeline transit costs for Russian gas shipped through Ukrainian territory.

Russia briefly cut gas shipments to Ukraine in January of 2006, in a previous pricing dispute that resulted in reduced gas deliveries to Europe.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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