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Russia Proposes Gas Summit

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Russia is proposing a summit of all countries involved in the current gas dispute between Moscow and Kyiv.  The proposal comes a week after Moscow halted deliveries of Russian gas through a Ukrainian pipeline that supplies much of Europe. 

Russian President Dmitri is proposing a summit in Moscow involving all countries affected by the ongoing gas crisis, which has coincided with plunging winter temperatures in Europe.  He made the call during a meeting near the Russian capital with the visiting prime ministers of Bulgaria, Moldova, and Slovakia. 

Mr. Medvedev expressed hope the proposed meeting Saturday will facilitate a way out of the current crisis and will help avoid similar situations in the future.  The ongoing dispute between Russia and Ukraine has halted or sharply limited gas deliveries to several European countries.

There was no immediate reaction to the Russian summit proposal from Ukraine or the countries affected by the gas cutoff.

The three visiting prime ministers also met with their Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, who blamed Ukraine for failure to honor a multilateral agreement to resume shipment of gas to Europe.

Mr. Putin told his guests the important thing is that Russia opened the valve in the direction of their countries and is prepared to deliver, but he said the valve on the Ukrainian side is closed and they are not transferring the gas.

In Kyiv, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said the full resumption of gas deliveries to Europe were being delayed because the small amount of gas provided by Russia does not create the pressure needed transport the gas through the pipeline.

Ms. Tymoshenko says another consideration is that Russia tried to send the fuel through a pipeline where Ukrainian gas has been flowing in the opposite direction to service eastern Ukraine, which makes it impossible to deliver gas to Europe along that route.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is warning that he will recommend legal action against the gas companies of Russian and Ukraine, if they do not restore the flow of gas soon.

Russia is also threatening to sue Ukraine to recover export losses that Gazprom Chairman Miller says currently amount to $1.1 billion.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country now holds the European Union presidency, says the EU should increase efforts to build the Nabucco pipeline, which would circumvent Russia.  The proposed pipeline, which has the support of the United States, would bring Caspian or Middle Eastern gas to Europe. 

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