Germany and Russia say they are working hard to resolve Europe’s mid-winter gas crisis, by setting up an international consortium of companies to get supplies flowing again.Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin discussed the issue in Berlin. The row with Ukraine has left much of central Europe without gas for heating. “It’s in Russia’s best interests that this situation be settled, and the sooner the better,” said Putin. “We have to guarantee the transit, agree with our Ukrainian partners, and separate two problems: 1) our gas sales to Ukraine for internal consumption and 2) our transit through Ukraine to Europe.” 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 row has prompted criticism of Europe’s dependency on Russian gas, and calls for alternative suppliers or even different energy solutions.