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Gazprom says will cut gas deliveries to Ukraine by amount stolen

Gazprom will reduce its delivery of gas to Ukraine by 65.3 million cubic meters - the volume that has been stolen, the Russian energy giant's CEO said on Monday.
MOSCOW, January 5 (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom will reduce its delivery of gas to Ukraine by 65.3 million cubic meters - the volume that has been stolen, the Russian energy giant's CEO said on Monday.

"There is a proposal to reduce deliveries across the Russian-Ukrainian border by the same volume that has been stolen from Russia - 65.3 million cubic meters, and in the future to cut volumes by the amount of gas stolen each day," Alexei Miller said at a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who agreed with the suggestion.

Miller also said that Gazprom was ready to guarantee deliveries to Europe by buying gas on the spot market, and that as well as increasing transit volumes through Belarus, Poland and Turkey, Gazprom would increase volumes of gas taken from underground reservoirs in European countries.

Putin asked who would ultimately pay for the gas. "Naftogaz of Ukraine," Miller replied.

Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on Thursday after last-ditch talks with Kiev on a new deal for 2009 and debt repayments failed late on New Year's Eve.

Around 80% of Russia's gas exports to Europe pass through Ukraine, and some European countries, including Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania, have reported drops in Russian gas supplied through Ukraine's pipeline network.

Miller has accused Ukraine's state-run Naftogaz of tapping Russian gas, which Ukraine denied, blaming Russia for creating the shortfall by deliberately cutting deliveries to Europe.

The Czech Republic said on Monday that Russian gas supplies had returned to normal after a drop of 5%. Local analysts have hinted that Kiev decided to restore Czech supplies in full to avoid antagonizing the country, which took over the EU presidency on January 1.

With Ukraine's gas debt to Russia from 2008 unresolved and no contract agreed for 2009 deliveries, the issue of Russian gas flowing through Ukrainian pipes to European consumers further west has become contentious.

In response to a claim by Ukraine's energy ministry, the Kiev economic court ruled on Monday that Naftogaz could not pump Russian gas westwards at a price of $1.6 for 1,000 cubic meters per 100 kilometers.

"It means that the contracts to which Gazprom are refering are void," Naftogaz spokesman Valentin Zemlyansky told RIA Novosti.

The ruling was rejected by official Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov.

"The resolution of the Kiev economic court is absolutely illegitimate," he said. "Our disputes can only be resolved in Sweden."

Both Gazprom and Ukraine's state-run Naftogaz have said that they will file lawsuits with the Stockholm Arbitration Court, which deals with international commercial legal disputes. The court on Monday said it could not comment on whether it was considering lawsuits from either party in the gas dispute.

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