Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed Kyiv’s decision to cut gas supplies to parts of eastern Ukraine “smells of genocide.”
Ukraine’s national gas company said a pipeline was damaged by fighting, but it has reportedly now been repaired.
Moscow is now directly supplying gas to Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions under the control of pro-Russian separatists.
“There is already famine there, and the OSCE has said that there is a humanitarian catastrophe, and now they’re cutting off gas supplies. What is that called? That already smells of genocide,” Putin said in televised comments.
Russia: Europe’s biggest gas supplier
Kyiv and Moscow have argued over gas supplies and pricing for the past year. That has deepened a rift in ties between the neighbours as Ukrainian forces battle pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
The EU’s energy chief Marcos Sefcovic has proposed holding talks very soon to discuss the dispute.
“We of course are trying to make sure that we will keep the winter package intact and we are trying to convene a trilateral meeting between Ukrainian and Russian energy ministers and me and the Commission very, very soon,” Sefcovic said.
The dispute could disrupt gas flow to Europe which gets around a third of its supplies from Russia. About 40 percent of that supply comes via Ukraine.