Putin warns EU about possible gas crisis

Russian PM Vladimir Putin has warned his Swedish counterpart Fredrik Reinfeldt about the possible disruption in the deliveries of Russian gas to Europe.

Putin told Reinfeldt in a telephone conversation on Sunday that such a scenario might occur due to Russia’s problems with Ukraine, which is a transit country for the gas shipments.

The Russian prime minister alerted the country currently holding EU presidency of “signals, including those received via official channels from Kiev, of possible problems with payments for Russian gas supplies,” Tanjug quoted Reuters, which cited an Interfax report based on an official statement.

“As Putin stressed, as a result of all this, ‘problems with Russian gas transits across Ukraine’s territory aimed for European consumers could arise’.”

Putin was reassured by Reinfeldt that he would notify the European Commission of Russia’s concerns, reports said.

The EC on Friday announced that it had proposed to the EU governments to approve a USD 741mn loan to Ukraine, since the deep economic crisis in that country has raised suspicion that Kiev will not be able to pay for the Russian gas.

On Friday Putin had already held a telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko over the issue, saying that “it seems we are again seeing problems with the payment of our energy supplies (from Ukraine),” Xinhua reported.

Russia supplies a quarter of EU’s gas needs, with 80 percent of it pumped through Ukrainian pipelines. The energy supplier cut off gas shipments to Ukraine for nearly two weeks in January over disputes on pricing and transition fees.

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