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Russia Threatens Ukraine With Sanctions Over Unpaid Gas Bill

President Dmitry Medvedev has threatened that Russia could impose sanctions on Ukraine if Kyiv doesn't pay its gas debt to Russia.

Medvedev's remarks, in an interview on Russian television, came as Russian gas giant Gazprom reiterated its threat to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in January, saying a contract dispute has reached a "critical" stage.

Gazprom says Ukraine -- which is going through a devastating financial crisis and continuing political turmoil -- owes it $2.1 billion for gas and fines.

"If there is no contract signed for gas supplies to Ukraine in 2009 than we will not be able to supply gas without contract on January 1," Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told a news conference.

The Gazprom spokesman offered assurances that legal and technical capabilities exist to prevent the dispute with Ukraine from disrupting gas deliveries west to Europe -- which previously happened in a similar dispute between the two neighboring countries.

Compiled from agency reports