Europe fears a cold winter as Russia switches off gas to Ukraine

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Europe fears a cold winter as Russia switches off gas to Ukraine

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Russia has raised the prospect of energy shortages in Europe after halting gas supplies to Ukraine over unpaid bills.

But while Kyiv accuses Moscow of playing politics and trying to destroy Ukraine’s economy, the former soviet republic says Europe’s energy supplies are not at risk.

Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan:

“I would like to stress that the Ukrainian side is ready for these developments in this situation. Today we can say the gas supplies for Ukraine’s consumers are secure and we will secure a reliable gas transit to European countries.”

Russia is now insisting Ukraine pays up front for gas supplies after Kyiv failed to settle part of a $4.5bn debt.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Nova:

“The Ukrainian side has flatly rejected all our proposals. We regard this as a totally non-constructive approach in view of the signed contract that has been in effect since 2009 and its main provisions.”

Moscow says Ukraine must let Russian gas flow across the country through international pipe lines to its clients in the European Union.

Kyiv is said to have enough reserves to last until December but it could be tempted to tap into transit supplies come Winter.

However Ukraine has recently struck a deal with Slovakia that would allow Russian gas to be pumped from Slovakia to Ukraine providing enough for 20 percent of Ukraine’s gas needs.