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Russia to halt natural gas to Ukraine

THURSDAY, JAN. 1, 2009

MOSCOW – Russia’s state gas monopoly said it would cut off all natural gas supplies to Ukraine early today after the two sides failed to agree on how much Ukraine would pay in 2009.

The cutoff announced late Wednesday by Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller threatened a replay of a January 2006 face-off, when a halt in Russian gas shipments to Ukraine during a similar dispute resulted in a brief reduction of supplies to Europe.

But Miller said Gazprom would continue full shipments to the European Union, which gets about a quarter of its gas from the Russian company, most of it through pipelines that cross Ukraine.

Ukraine made a late-hour appeal for a return to negotiations.

The Ukrainian president’s energy adviser, Bohdan Sokolovsky, said a note was delivered to a Russian diplomat in Kiev asking Russia not to turn off the gas and expressing hope an agreement could be reached in the coming days.

Sokolovsky also said Ukraine would guarantee the delivery of gas to Europe.

“Whatever Russia ships we will deliver,” he said. “This is what we have committed to.”

Gazprom had warned it would cut supplies unless Ukraine paid off all of its debt and signed a deal for 2009 deliveries by midnight. Neither was done, Miller said.

“Gazprom will cut off 100 percent of gas supplies to Ukrainian consumers at 10 a.m. on Jan. 1,” Miller told reporters.


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