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Putin Orders Cuts in Gas Shipped Through Ukraine

By VOA News
05 January 2009

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has ordered the state-run energy firm, Gazprom, to cut the amount of natural gas pumped through Ukraine by the same amount the firm has said Kyiv is diverting from Europe.

Mr. Putin ordered the cut after Gazprom chief Alexei Miller told him Ukraine has diverted more that 65 million cubic meters of gas destined for Western Europe. He instructed Gazprom to expand use of other routes to compensate customers for the loss.

Russia cut gas deliveries to Ukraine in a price dispute January 1, accusing Ukraine of failing to pay its bills.

Envoys of the 27 European Union countries met in Brussels Monday to discuss the crisis.

The EU also sent a delegation to Kyiv for talks on the dispute ahead of a meeting with Gazprom officials Tuesday.

An EU official Radek Honzak downplayed the impact of the cut-off. He told reporters in Brussels there is no substantial disruption of gas supply to any member state.

Also Monday, a court in Kyiv temporarily invalidated a contract with Russia setting the transit rate for natural gas going through Ukraine, which hopes to increase transit fees.

Sunday, Gazprom announced plans to charge Ukraine $450 for 1,000 cubic meters of gas once supplies resume, instead of the $418 the firm had sought earlier. The price is more than double what Ukraine is ready to pay.

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



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