Russia has accused Ukraine of stealing gas destined for the rest of Europe in a sign of deepening acrimony over a payment dispute.
Ukraine earlier said it was diverting a small amount daily so that it could maintain pressure in its pipeline system and keep transit supplies flowing. It also claimed Russia was not pumping enough to keep up agreed supply levels to the west. On Thursday Russian energy giant Gazprom cut deliveries to Ukraine over what it claims are unpaid bills. Western European countries have not yetsaid they have not noticed any drop in deliveries, but Hungary says levels are falling. A Gazprom spokesman said the company would use alternative routes to pump gas to western Europe. Most of the gas Europe buys from Russia comes through Ukraine. But Russia could boost deliveries passing through Belarus. The EU is anxious not to see a repeat of a similar dispute two years ago that led to shortfalls in the bloc. The Cech Republic, which holds the EU presidency, has said it will only intervene in the row if its supplies are affected. Officials from the 27 member states will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the situation on Monday.