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Vladimir Putin (file photo) (epa)
January 9, 2007 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government today to discuss a possible reduction in output by Russian oil companies after a dispute between Russia and Belarus halted supplies to several European countries.
Putin said it is necessary "to discuss with the Russian oil-producing companies the possibility of reducing oil output in connection to problems linked to the transit of our oil through Belarusian territory."
The dispute over oil levies that Russia and Belarus imposed against each other has led to a suspension in oil supplies to several Central and Western European countries.
Putin today said it was necessary to continue negotiations with Belarusian officials to shield Western consumers from the effects of the dispute, but also said it was necessary to protect national economic interests.
The European Commission today said it was "unacceptable" that it was not informed of the suspension in oil shipments and urged Russia and Belarus to resolve the supply halt "immediately."
(compiled from agency reports)