The Prime Ministers of Bulgaria and Slovakia will travel to Moscow and Kiev today – in a fresh effort to get much-needed gas supplies restored to their hard-hit countries.
Russia resumed pumping gas to Europe via Ukraine yesterday under the terms of a Brussels-brokered deal – but observers said none was getting through. Moscow accused Kiev of shutting off the pipes – but Ukraine claimed there was not enough pressure in the system. Both Gazprom and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said they could not understand why supplies were not getting through to Europe. The European Commission says gas is needed urgently. President Jose Manuel Barroso is reported to have telephoned Putin in person to voice his disappointment. Russia cut off gas to Ukraine on January the 1st due to a row over bills and pricing. It halted distribution to Europe a week later, claiming Ukraine was stealing supplies, something Kiev denies. 18 countries, particularly in south-eastern Europe, have been badly hit.