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NATO Experts Warn Of Russian Gas Cartel

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) pictured during a visit to Algeria in March (epa) November 14, 2006 -- The "Financial Times" says NATO experts have warned the military alliance that Russia may be seeking to create a global gas cartel to strengthen its leverage in political dealings with Europe.

According to the British daily, a confidential study by NATO's economics committee warned Russia may be seeking to build a gas cartel including Algeria, Qatar, Libya, the countries of Central Asia, and perhaps Iran.

Dmitry Peskov, a deputy spokesman for the Kremlin, told the daily "there was no substance at all" to the suspicions.

The study concluded that creating what it called an "OPEC for gas" could strengthen Russia's leverage in dealings with Europe, particularly with neighbors such as Georgia and Ukraine.

An alliance source told Reuters that the study represented the views of experts from national capitals rather than an official NATO view.

("Financial Times," Reuters)