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Gazprom Warns Ukraine Against Illegal Gas Siphoning

Gazprom headquarters (AFP) 30 December 2005 -- With Russian and Ukrainian officials involved in last-minute talks to avoid a cutoff of natural gas supplies to Ukraine, Russia's state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom today reassured customers in Europe of uninterrupted supplies.

Gazprom warned Ukraine that any illegal tapping of pipelines running through Ukraine would result in "severe and decisive" consequences.

Regarding supplies for Ukraine's own consumption, Gazprom Chairman Aleksei Miller reiterated today that the taps will be shut off on 1 January if no deal is reached.

"If in the hours left to the beginning of the new year Ukraine does not sign a contract on gas supplies, at 10 a.m. Moscow time on 1 January supplies of gas from the territory of the Russian Federation to Ukrainian consumers will be completely stopped. We will act decisively and clearly," Miller said.

Officials from the two countries were meeting again today in Moscow to discuss Gazprom's intention to quadruple the price of gas exports to Ukraine from $50 per 1,000 cubic meters to some $220.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko today called for freezing the price of gas until 10 January to allow more time for negotiating. Gazprom rejected the offer.