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EU: Weekend gas talks "test case" for reliability of Russia, Ukraine
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12:12, January 17, 2009

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The European Union said here on Friday that the upcoming summit on the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine would serve as a test case for the two countries as reliable energy suppliers to Europe.

"The meetings in the coming days offer the last and best chance for Russia and for Ukraine to demonstrate that they are serious about resolving this dispute," EU spokesman Johannes Laitenberger told a midday briefing.

"The gas must flow," he said, "We will regard this period as a test case for judging whether or not they are credible partners."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev proposed on Wednesday a summit on Saturday in Moscow, where the leaders of European gas-consuming nations would gather to search for ways to end the week long cutoff of gas.

EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and Czech Energy Minister Martin Riman, whose country is holding the current EU presidency, would join the talks, meant to find a solution to the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine that has left more than a dozen of EU nations without gas for ten days.

Natural gas stocks in European countries have further declined.

Media reports said that German gas stocks are "unusually" low, Slovenian and Slovakian supplies could only last less than a month. Croatia has sought emergency imports.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed on Thursday that its exporter OAO Gazprom sell technical gas to European companies for resale to Ukraine so that Ukraine could have its pipelines function.

A gas dispute between the two former Soviet republics since Jan.1 over on gas pricing and shipment fees has left more than a dozen European nations without heating gas mid freezing weather. Currently, one of the major stumbling blocks is Ukraine's request for free Russian gas to run its pipelines.


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