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Russia threatens gas supplies to Ukraine unless bills are paid

The gloves have come off at an energy summit in Warsaw. The EU says it wants members to pay only a single price for Russian gas, and Russia is demanding Ukraine begin paying its debt for gas this month.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Friday state-controlled energy company Gazprom would begin cutting gas supplies to Ukraine, if Kyiv failed to pay back its debt for Russian gas.

Novak also expressed concern that Ukraine’s storage capacities were not sufficient to hold enough gas for transport to Europe during the winter.

His comments came during a meeting with energy officials from the EU, Poland and Ukraine in Warsaw. Earlier in the day, EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said he would like to see member states pay only one price for Russian gas.

Nearly a third of the EU’s gas demand is currently sourced from Russia, and some of it comes from pipelines in Ukraine. Ukraine has said it wants to import more natural gas from Europe to lower its dependency on Russian gas.

Diversified sources

"We want a uniform gas price in the European common market," said Oettinger. He also suggested the creation of a pan-European grid for gas and electricity, more liquefied gas terminals and more diversified sources of natural gas, including Norway.

EU seeks alternative energy supplies

While the price of oil and coal increases at about the same rate around the world, that’s not the case with natural gas. A March report from the European Commission claims that prices for gas and electricity vary from region to region, country to country, and even within some countries.

The Commission believes this results in competitive disadvantages and inefficiencies incompatible with a single market.

kpc / hg (Reuters, dpa, European Commission)

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