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Russia accuses Ukraine of "stealing" gas bound for western Europe

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Russia accuses Ukraine of "stealing" gas bound for western Europe

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Russian gas monopoly Gazprom is claiming that Ukraine stole more than 21 million euros’ worth of gas bound for Europe yesterday. Ukraine denies siphoning off gas but says if temperatures fall below freezing it will do so as payment for transit fees.

Several European countries are concerned their gas supplies could be hit following Russia’s decision to cut imports to Ukraine. Moscow acted after Kiev refused to sign a new contract that would have quadrupled current prices. Western Europe imports 25 percent of its gas from Russia and most of that is delivered by pipelines running across Ukraine. Kiev sees the Russian move as an attempt to undermine its pro-Western government. President Viktor Yushchenko is trying to take the ex-Soviet state into the European Union and the NATO military alliance. EU governments are convening a meeting of their gas industry experts in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss the crisis.