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International monitors confirm Kiev blocking gas transit- Gazprom

RIA Novosti

14/01/2009 11:48 MOSCOW, January 14 (RIA Novosti) - International monitors have confirmed that Ukraine has blocked the transit of Russia's Europe-bound natural gas supplies through its territory, the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has said.

Russia, which has accused Ukraine of tapping gas intended for Europe, resumed shipments after a weeklong cutoff on Tuesday after a EU-led team of monitors was deployed at gas metering stations in Ukraine. However, the transit gas did not reach Europe.

"Members of the international monitoring commission in Kiev... have signed a report from gas control stations, which shows that no Russian gas has been pumped through Ukraine's transit pipelines toward Europe," Gazprom said late on Tuesday, adding that meters in Russia's Kursk Region on the border with Ukraine showed gas was being pumped.

Ukraine has denied stealing gas, claiming instead that Russia has not sent enough "technical gas" to maintain the pressure necessary to send the required amounts of energy to Europe. Kiev also said that Moscow had demanded gas for Europe be sent along a complicated route that would require Ukraine to cut off supplies to its own people.

Gazprom said on Monday that Ukraine should either use its own "technical" gas, or buy it if the company lacks its own resources. Gazprom said it was yet to establish the total volume tapped by Ukraine, saying that it had siphoned off 140 million cubic meters intended for the Balkan region alone.

The European Parliament speaker urged Moscow and Kiev on Tuesday to fulfill the monitoring deal and resolve their dispute, which had "caught the EU citizens in the crossfire," as soon as possible.

"On behalf of the European Parliament, I call upon both the Russian and Ukrainian authorities to uphold the agreement mediated by the European Union which they also signed," Hans-Gert Pottering said in a statement.

Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on January 1 after talks on debt and a gas price for 2009 broke down. On January 7, Moscow cut off shipments to Europe, accusing Ukraine of siphoning off gas in transit for European consumers.

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