The European Union said it was very concerned about Russia's warning that it could again halt gas deliveries to Ukraine -- and possibly to Europe -- over a payment dispute, adding that the two countries' "credibility" would be affected.
AFP- The European Union is "very concerned" about the risk of a new gas crisis after recent comments from Ukraine and Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said Thursday.
"We are very concerned with the latest news coming from Ukraine and also comments coming from Prime Minister Putin," Barroso told a press conference with Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev.
A January dispute between Russia and Ukraine led to Russian gas supplies to Europe being severed for almost two weeks, triggering the EU's worst ever energy crisis.
"We have already ... stressed our strong condemnation of this kind of situation," Barroso told reporters.
"I think the credibility of Russia and Ukraine will of course be affected if we have another gas crisis," he added, standing next to the leaders of one of the countries worst-hit by the January gas shut-off.
The European Union has monitors in place to check on the flow of Russian gas through the key Ukraine pipeline, and Barroso said their numbers could be boosted if necessary.
Armed Ukrainian security service agents on Wednesday burst into the headquarters of the Ukrainian state gas firm Naftogaz to conduct a search, in a dramatic display of the country's internal tensions.
The raid came as Russia set a March 8 deadline for payment by Ukraine of a 360 million dollar debt for February.
Putin warned that failure to pay would lead to a halt in supplies to Ukraine and possibly European consumers.
Date created : 2009-03-05