Oil supplies to eastern EU countries could again face disruption because of a fresh row over payments between Moscow and Ukraine.
Russia has warned the European Union that Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic – all of which get their supplies through Ukraine – could experience oil supply cuts.
The Russian oil pipeline company Transneft has accused Ukranian politicians of setting new “unacceptable” terms for oil transit via the Black Sea port of Yuzhny.
Kiev is reported to have “raised additional conditions” which, says Transneft, would mean oil supplies will be cut if a deal is not reached quickly.
EU gas supplies were halted in the dead of winter in 2006 and 2009, undermining Russia’s image as a reliable energy supplier.
Germany and Poland also have no guarantees of uninterrupted oil supplies in the New Year unless Moscow signs a deal with Belarus at the end of this week.