Putin Promises to Decrease Europe Supplies 'If Ukraine Steals Gas'
Russian President Vladimir Putin has made clear Gazprom will reduce deliveries to EU countries if Ukraine "steals" transit gas pumped through its territory.
He made his comments while on a visit to Serbia.
Speaking with his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic on Thursday, he stressed there would certainly be Russian gas for Europe this winter and also that Russia will not be to blame for a prospective gas crisis on the continent, ITAR-TASS reported him as saying.
At the same time he warned there was a risk to transit supplies via Ukraine.
His remarks followed a statement by Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who announced Ukraine was not able to guarantee gas transit without signing an agreement "with European companies".
Ukraine itself has not received Russian gas since Moscow introduced a prepayment system in June, accusing Kiev of failing to make payments on its debt to energy giant Gazprom.
Reverse supplies have partially fulfilled Ukraine's gas demand over the past months, but Russia has recently warned a bill is being drafted that would declare the reexport of gas to debtor countries.
Some estimates also suggest Ukraine's depots do not contain enough gas to cover the needs of the entire winter period.
Putin enjoyed a warm welcome in Serbia as President Nikolic personally awarded him a first-degree decoration.
"Dear brother Vladimir, the Serbian people are proud that you are wearing Serbia's highest decoration," Nikolic told Putin in a speech delivered entirely in Russian.
Putin is to attend the ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of Belgrade's liberation in WWII.
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