Putin warns Europe over gas supplies

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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has written to 18 European leaders urging them to offer quick financial assistance to Ukraine to prevent a shutdown of Russian natural gas to much of Europe.

In a letter released yesterday by the Kremlin, Mr Putin warned that Ukraine’s mounting gas debt is forcing Moscow to start demanding advance payments for Russian gas supplies.

He warned that if Ukraine fails to make such payments, Russia’s state-controlled gas giant Gazprom will “completely or partially cease gas deliveries”.

Mr Putin told the leaders that a possible shutdown of Russian gas supplies will increase the risk of Ukraine siphoning off gas intended for Europe and will make it difficult to accumulate sufficient reserves for next winter.

Mr Putin expressed his “utmost concern” about the growing gas debts.