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Russian president warns Europe of gas supply ‘risks’

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has warned of “major transit risks” to Europe’s gas supplies from his country this winter unless Ukraine settles a gas dispute with Moscow.

“There will be no crises through a fault of Russian participants of energy cooperation in Europe,” Putin said during a visit to Serbia on Thursday, adding, “But there are major transit risks.”

“If we see that our Ukrainian partners — as in 2008 — start siphoning off our gas from the export pipeline system in an unauthorized manner then we will also — like in 2008 — be gradually reducing supplies by the amount that has been stolen,” Putin said.

He made the comments ahead of significant talks with EU leaders and his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, in the Italian city of Milan later on Thursday and Friday.

The Russian president, meanwhile, expressed hope that the talks and separate energy discussions next week would resolve the dispute.

A fresh round of gas negotiations between Moscow, the EU and Kiev with the aim of settling the gas dispute is due to be held in Germany on October 21.

Russia shut off gas deliveries to Ukraine in June, saying Kiev had not settled its debts. Ukraine, itself, is at the risk of facing gas shortages in the winter if the disagreement is not resolved.

Previous gas disputes led Moscow to pull the plug on gas supply to Ukraine in the winters of 2005-2006 and 2008-2009, disrupting supplies to customers in Europe.


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