A spokesman for Gazprom appeared on Russian TV on Thursday saying that Ukraine was running short on gas.
"With the current level of supplies, prepayments will be enough only up till the end of the week," said Sergei Kupriyanov on Rossiya-24 TV. "If Kyiv doesn't make new payments, then naturally we won't be able to continue supplying Ukraine with gas."
Kupriyanov added that Gazprom would consider excluding gas supplies to disputed regions in east Ukraine from its existing contract with Ukraine's state energy company, Naftogaz.
The issue of Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine came up in October as well, when it was agreed that Ukraine would pay in advance for its gas shipments. Russia has accused Ukraine of deliberately cutting off gas supplies to rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine, but Kyiv responded by saying it would not deliver to areas that it did not control. Russia, in turn, began delivering gas directly to the disputed territory, leading to the current dispute.
If Ukraine's gas supplies are cut off, it could have serious implications for the rest of Europe, which receives about a third of its gas from Russia. Around 40 percent of that supply flows through Ukraine.
mz/sms (Reuters, AP)