A flickering flame of hope that Russian gas supplies could soon be back on stream to a freezing Europe has been lit in Berlin.A proposal to allow a consortium of energy companies to step in to restore pressure in Ukrainian pipelines has received the backing of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel during talks with Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. During a press conference the German leader said: “I believe there is a way for Gazprom and Naftogaz to work together to set up a test phase in which, with the help of observers who are on the ground already….we can test systems to resume delivery of gas to Europe and the Balkans.” Russian gas destined for Europe passes through pipes across Ukraine. Supplies were cut after Moscow accused Kiev of not paying its bills and, later, of siphoning off gas meant for customers further west. The consortium has said it will foot the bill for the so called “technical gas” needed to get things stated again. Kiev has yet to agree but later today Ukraine’s prime minister is due in Moscow for talks.