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Putin Orders Cuts In Gas Pumped Via Ukraine

Putin's order came as diplomats were gathered in Brussels.
(RFE/RL) -- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has ordered Russia's state-controlled Gazprom to begin cutting shipments of gas pumped via Ukraine to Europe.

The move came as European diplomats were holding an emergency meeting in Brussels to discuss a dispute between Russia and Ukraine that prompted a drastic reduction in supplies intended for Ukraine but is also affecting gas supplies to Europe.

The EU meanwhile has dispatched a delegation to Kyiv for talks on the dispute over debts and prices.

Putin ordered Gazprom chief executive Aleksei Miller to cut volumes of natural gas shipped through Ukraine by amounts equivalent to those Moscow has accused Ukraine of stealing.

Miller said Gazprom would instead increase gas deliveries to Europe through Belarus and the Blue-Stream pipeline under the Black Sea.

Ukraine has accused Gazprom of not supplying enough gas for transit to Europe.

Croatia, Greece, and the Czech Republic became the latest countries to report a fall in supplies as a result of the dispute.

Moscow has pressed Kyiv for payment of an overdue gas debt and a higher price for its gas, while Ukrainian sources have signaled that the transit fees they receive for shipping Russian gas must be part of any negotiations.

compiled from agency reports