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Ukraine warns EU serious gas shortages possible

A senior Ukrainian official says European consumers will see serious natural gas shortages in two weeks if Moscow and Kiev don't resolve their dispute over gas payments.

A senior Ukrainian official says European consumers will see serious natural gas shortages in two weeks if Moscow and Kiev don't resolve their dispute over gas payments.

Bohdan Sokolovsky made the comment Saturday, two days after Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom shut off Ukraine's gas supply after saying it was owed $2 billion US in missed payments.

Russia acted after the two countries failed to agree on a price contract for 2009.

Most Russian gas bound for Europe travels through Ukraine, and Gazprom has accused Ukraine of siphoning off gas intended for European customers, a charge that Ukraine's energy adviser to the EU, Viacheslav Kniazhytsky, has denied.

Romania, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria have all reported that the pressure in their pipelines has dropped below normal.

Gazprom said it was increasing deliveries to Europe by about 16 per cent to compensate for the fuel it alleges Ukraine is stealing.

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