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Freezing Europe hit by Russian gas shortage

Freezing weather sweeping across Europe has led to a shortage of vital Russian gas supplies to several countries, officials say. An EU energy spokeswoman said eight countries had seen a reduction in gas due to increased demand in Russia. She said the situation was not an emergency but was being monitored.

The cold snap is being blamed for scores of deaths in Eastern Europe where temperatures have plunged to below -35C.  “I can confirm that there has been a decrease in gas deliveries in various member states – Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Italy,” EU spokeswoman Marlene Holzner said. “It’s not a situation of emergency yet,” she added.

Correspondents say the sudden drop in Russian gas supplies – which pass through Ukraine – is raising fears of a repeat of a crisis in 2009 when tension between Moscow and Kiev cut supplies to parts of Europe for about two weeks. Countries including Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia are almost completely dependent on supplies via Ukraine. Gazprom, the Russian gas export monopoly, said on Friday it was supplying as much gas as it could spare. “We are doing everything possible… all the systems are working in a stable manner,” spokesman Sergey Komlev said.

Source: BBC News