In a letter to European leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Ukraine's gas-related debt could impact transit supplies to the West. He called for urgent discussions to resolve outstanding financial issues.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday informed several European leaders about just how critical he thought the current situation was over Ukraine's natural gas debt, indicating a protracted deadlock concerning payments to Moscow could have an impact on Russia's future gas deliveries to Europe.
The state-run Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted Putin as saying he was "extremely concerned about the situation surrounding Ukraine's gas debt and the transit of gas to Europe."
Russia's Gazprom repeated Ukraine owed $2.2 billion (1.59 billion euros) for gas supplies and missed the deadline for paying its March deliveries.
Expect no change!
Ukraine's problems had worsened after Gazprom introducedmarket prices for its gas to Ukraine
, doing away with previous price rebates in place before the outbreak of the crisis surrounding Russia's annexation of Crimea.
In his letters to EU leaders, Putin said he was in favor of speedily finding a mechanism for "urgent discussions" on Ukraine's debt problem.
First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said at an event in Berlin Thursday Russia had always been a reliable energy supplier to Western nations. But in a broadside againstEU plans for the bloc to grow more independent of Russian deliveries
in response to the crisis, Shuvalov quipped Russia had other potential partners for oil and gas deliveries.
He added any sanctions the West was imposing on Russia would not change the country's behavior and would only lead to Russian society becoming more united.
hg/dr (Reuters, AFP)