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EU Backs New Gas Pipeline Bypassing Russia

The European Commission is seeking to invest more than $330 million in funding for a natural gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Western Europe, bypassing Russia.

European leaders Wednesday unveiled the funding plan. Support for the so-called Nabucco pipeline across Turkey was affirmed at a regional energy conference in Hungary's capital, Budapest, on Tuesday.

Early this month, Russia spread alarm through the continent when it stopped sending gas to Ukraine and Western Europe because of a pricing dispute with Kyiv. The cutoff left millions of Europeans without energy supplies for nearly two weeks in sub-freezing temperatures.

Gas flow was restored last week, but not before a host of Western governments accused Russia and Ukraine of becoming unreliable energy partners.

The Nabucco funding is the centerpiece of a proposed $4.6 billion European Union energy plan aimed at reducing Western dependence on Russian energy supplies.

The EU energy plan needs the backing of EU governments and the European parliament.

Reuters news agency says the EU proposal also includes more than $1 billion to pay for gas inter-connectors allowing the 27 EU member states, to increase help to each other during gas crises. Another half billion dollars would go towards funding EU wind power projects.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.