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Russia-Ukraine Gas Deal Slowed by Snags

Russia has restarted natural gas shipments through Ukraine to Western Europe, but European Union monitors say little or no gas is flowing to European countries that are suffering urgent energy shortages.

As a war of words between Moscow and Kyiv continued Tuesday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Russian television the Ukrainian pipeline may no longer be adequate for European needs. Russia's state-run gas firm Gazprom earlier accused Ukraine of diverting gas to domestic use.

Russia originally cut gas to Ukraine January first in a pricing dispute.

Early Tuesday, a top Ukrainian energy advisor, Oleksiy Hudyma, told VOA that Russian gas is flowing into Ukraine. But he said it cannot be forwarded to Europe until adequate pipeline pressure is restored.

The two countries signed the deal Monday restarting Russian gas flow. The agreement also calls on Russia and Ukraine to grant European monitors full access to pipeline control rooms.

However, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Tuesday neither country has yet granted EU monitors full access.

Russia cut all gas flow through Ukraine six days ago, leaving millions of people in Europe without adequate heat to face the coldest temperatures of the year.

Europe receives about a quarter of its natural gas from Russia. Most of the Russian gas is shipped through pipelines that run across Ukraine.

The dispute centers on Russian demands to charge Ukraine the market price for gas without the traditional discount. Ukraine says the price Russia wants is twice what it is willing to pay.

In a related development, Ukraine's opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych Tuesday called for the impeachment of President Viktor Yushchenko. The opposition leader, who seeks closer ties with Russia, accused the president of mishandling the energy crisis.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.