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Ukraine's state gas company Naftogaz denied Gazrpom's claims it was stealing
Ukraine's state gas company Naftogaz denied Gazrpom's claims it was stealing gas, made after some EU states reported reductions in gas supplies via Ukraine, the company said on its website on Saturday.

Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on Thursday after last-ditch talks on Kiev's outstanding $2-billion gas debt and a new contract for 2009 failed late on New Year's Eve. Some European countries, including Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, have said that Russian gas deliveries through the Ukrainian pipeline have fallen.

"Naftogaz considers that any statement from official representatives from Gazprom on the unsanctioned siphoning off by Ukraine of Russian gas destined for Europe is untrue and damages the reputation of Naftogaz as a reliable transporter of energy to European Union countries," the statement said.

Naftogaz blamed Gazprom for the shortfalls as the war of words between the two sides continued accusing the Russian energy monopoly of intentionally cutting gas deliveries to Europe. A Ukrainian delegation had earlier visited the Czech capital for talks to try and lobby EU support in the latest gas war.

Russia also dispatched its own representative, Alexander Medvedev, deputy Gazprom CEO, visited Prague on Saturday and told a press conference that Russia was ready to continue talks with Naftogaz but were waiting for a response from the Ukrainian side.

Medvedev discussed the gas dispute during a meeting with EU officials in the Czech Republic, which now holds the rotating EU presidency. The EU is due to discuss the gas dispute at a meeting in Brussels on Monday.

Medvedev is also expected to visit Paris, London, Berlin, Vienna and Brussels, to reassure EU leaders that Gazprom is ready to fulfill all its commitments on gas deliveries to Europe and allay concerns in Europe about the reliability of Russia as a supplier.

The head of Poland's state-gas pipeline operator Gaz-System said on Saturday that Russian gas delivered via Ukraine had fallen by 11%.

"Yesterday gas supplies through Ukraine decreased by 11%. However, we quickly agreed to increase transits through Belarus with Gazprom," Tadeusz Abramowski said at a press conference, adding that Poland had sufficient reserves to cope with the current situation.

Romania also reported 30-40% drops in levels of Russian gas delivered through the Ukrainian pipeline system.

Ukraine transits about 80% of Russian gas, a major source of revenue for Moscow, bound for the EU. Europe buys a quarter of its gas needs from Gazprom.


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