Putin warns Europe about Ukraine gas debt

Russian national flags fly above barricades with a road sign "Stop" with an Orthodox icon in front of an entrance of the Ukrainian regional office of the Security Service in Luhansk, Ukraine on Thursday, April 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Igor Golovniov)
Russian national flags fly above barricades with a road sign "Stop" with an Orthodox icon in front of an entrance of the Ukrainian regional office of the Security Service in Luhansk, Ukraine on Thursday, April 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Igor Golovniov)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has sent a letter to 18 European leaders urging them to offer a quick financial assistance to Ukraine to prevent a shutdown of Russian natural gas to much of Europe.

In a letter released Thursday by the Kremlin, Putin warned that Ukraine’s mounting gas debt is forcing Moscow to start demanding advance payments for Russian gas supplies. He warned that if Ukraine fails to make such payments, Russia’s state-controlled gas giant Gazprom will “completely or partially cease gas deliveries.”

Putin told the leaders that a possible shutdown of Russian gas supplies will increase the risk of Ukraine siphoning off gas that intended for Europe and will make it difficult to accumulate sufficient reserves for next winter.

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