Russian gas monopoly Gazprom accused the Ukraine on Wednesday of planning to siphon off gas that Russia transits through Ukrainian territory to the European Union, as a payment dispute escalated. Ukraine is the main transit route for Russian supplies to the European Union and a previous such dispute in 2006 led to knock-on disruption in EU countries.
Russia and Ukraine slid towards a new gas war on Tuesday as Moscow slashed supplies to the ex-Soviet republic by 50% and Ukraine's state gas company said it may cut deliveries to Europe. Russian gas monopoly Gazprom was to cut supplies to 50% of their normal level on Tuesday at 5pm GMT, doubling a 25% cut already in force since Monday.
Russia threatened on Tuesday to cut gas supplies to Ukraine again in a move that appears to reflect its displeasure at the prospect of a new orange government in Kiev. Gazprom, the state-controlled monopoly, said it would reduce supplies to Ukraine next month unless it settled a bill of more than $1,3-billion.
Orange Revolution supporters claimed victory over allies of Ukraine's prime minister in a snap parliamentary election, but the two camps face tough talks on Monday to forge a viable coalition. President Viktor Yushchenko dissolved Parliament in April, accusing his rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, of a grab for power.