Gazprom says it fully cuts gas to Ukraine

Moscow/Kiev - Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom said it had fully cut gas to Ukrainian consumers on Thursday.

A spokesman for Gazprom said it had cut 90 million cubic metres of gas per day meant for Ukrainian from 10 am Moscow time (0700 GMT) after talks on a new deal for
2009 deliveries failed.

Another 300 million cubic metres of gas were still being pumped to European clients further downstream, Gazprom said.

Ukraine's gas monopoly Naftogaz confirmed it was observing a steady drop in the pipeline's gas pressure. A spokesman for the company said it would use its gas reserves to make up for the difference.

Russian news agencies earlier had cited an engineer at Gazprom's pumping station as saying gas supplies to Ukraine had been reduced by 75 per cent. It was not immediately clear what accounted for the difference.

The breakdown in trade between Moscow and Kiev have raised fears of a repeat of the "gas wars" of 2006, when gas supplies to western Europe were disrupted by Gazprom's cutoff and alleged Ukrainian siphoning off of gas.

Experts said that Ukraine has enough gas stored for the winter, but Gazprom accused Naftogaz of "blackmailing" it with threats in talks to seize transits to Europe.

Over 80 per cent of Russian gas exports to Europe pass through Ukrainian pipelines. (dpa)