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Russia to continue to supply Europe with gas

Staff writer |
Russia guarantees to fulfill its commitments to supply natural gas to its European partners but needs prepayment from Ukraine, said President Vladimir Putin.

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"Gazprom is entitled to, and the government of the Russian Federation proposes switching to, prepayment," Mr. Putin was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS news agency.

Mr. Putin said the deal meant Ukraine would receive next month the amount of gas it paid for that period. But he described Ukraine's natural gas debt to Russia as "intolerable," saying that the West should help Kiev to clear it. "Russia acts very carefully and cautiously and with respect for our partners. The problem does not relate to us but to securing gas transit via Ukraine."

In a letter to 18 EU nations that import Russian gas, Mr. Putin threatened to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine over the country's unpaid bill, expressing concerns over Ukraine's increasing debt to Russia. He said Gazprom could be "compelled to switch over to advance payment for gas deliveries" and "completely or partially cease gas deliveries" if Ukraine fails to pay a $2.2-billion (1.6-billion-euro) debt.

About 15 percent of gas consumption in the EU comes from Russia, with half of that piped through Ukraine.

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