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Russia Restores Gas Deliveries To Europe --> A gas gauge in Hungary, whose supplies have also been affected (epa) 3 January 2006 -- Russian authorities say gas supplies to European countries have been fully restored after a disruption caused by a row with Ukraine over gas prices, while representatives of the Russian and Ukrainian monopoly gas monopolies are scheduled to meet today to discuss the standoff.

Russia's state-run natural-gas monopoly Gazprom announced earlier today that it was increasing the amount of gas shipped through pipelines in Ukraine to assure full deliveries to customers in European countries. Gazprom has since said that supplies to European customers were back to normal.

Austria and Hungary, which had suffered supply cuts of up to 40 percent after Gazprom cut the flow to Ukrainian customers on 1 January, have announced the full restoration of deliveries from Russia.

Accusations Of Theft

Gazprom representatives also reiterated their claim -- denied by Kyiv -- that Ukraine was siphoning off gas intended for European customers.

Gazprom Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Medvedev said the current situation could not continue. "Maintaining this situation would be the same as encouraging Ukraine to steal our gas on the way to Europe.” Medvedev said. “So all of our European partners have been warned that we are doing the maximum to maintain gas supplies to Europe. The responsibility for a possible break in supply lies completely with the Ukrainian side."

Eduard Zanyuk, a spokesman for Ukraine's state-gas monopoly Naftohaz Ukrayiny, denied the siphoning allegations.

"The fact that Gazprom's management is lying is obvious," Zanyuk said. "Unsanctioned siphoning of gas ended already at the time when [current President] Viktor Andiyovych Yushchenko was prime minister [1999-2001]."

Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov called on the European Union to put pressure on Ukraine to ensure that full supplies of Russian natural gas transit to European countries.

Gazprom-Naftohaz Meeting Planned

The standoff was sparked by demands by Gazprom for Ukraine to start paying $230 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas -- a more than fourfold increase over the $50 Ukraine has been paying.

Gazprom's Medvedev said that Russian and Ukrainian gas officials were due to meet later today to discuss the pricing dispute. A spokesman for Naftohaz Ukrayiny confirmed the meeting was scheduled.


Gas Facts

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