Russian energy giant Gazprom says it has formed a special unit to deal with shutting off gas supplies to Ukraine in the hours ahead.
It comes as negotiations continue to try to reach a last-ditch deal in the latest row with Kiev over unpaid bills.
The state-owned firm has said there is a 50 per cent chance of supplies to Ukraine being cut from January 1. Its warnings were reiterated at a news conference today.
The briefing took place as it emerged that despite the global economic crisis Gazprom’s profits leapt by 85 per cent in the first half of the year.
The company has issued reassurances amid fears the row with Ukraine could threaten the smooth transit of Russian gas to western Europe.