EU Faces Crisis as Russia Cuts Off Gas

Spat with Ukraine leaves half of continent short of fuel
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2009 7:08 AM CST
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, left, and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, right, are seen during their meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009.   (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)
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(Newser) – European nations from Austria to Greece lost most or all of their gas supplies today, as a showdown between Russia and Ukraine imperiled the entire continent. Last night Gazprom, the Russian state gas company, cut its supply by 60% to punish Ukraine for allegedly stealing fuel that should flow through the country to central and eastern Europe. This morning, after the coldest night of the winter, Bulgaria begged its citizens to conserve gas as it faced "a crisis situation."

 A European delegation is holding meetings in Kiev today, the Times of London reports. The EU gets a quarter of its gas from Russia, 80% of which comes via Ukraine. While Gazprom said it would attempt to correct the shortfalls via other pipelines, four countries have reported a complete halt in supplies and Germany may be next to suffer shortages.