The European Union (EU) held emergency talks here Thursday with Russian gas monopoly Gazprom and Ukraine's state-run gas company Naftogaz in a bid to solve the pricing dispute between the two neighbors, which has created a supply crisis in some EU nations.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso met Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and Naftogaz head Oleg Dubyna separately. But there was no immediate information about the outcome of the talks.
On Wednesday, Barroso said the talks would focus on an EU monitoring mission to check the flow of Russian gas intended for Europe via Ukraine.
All Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine were shut down Wednesday as the Moscow-Kiev dispute escalated.
A woman walks past the Druzhba thermal power station in Sofia, January 8, 2009. Hundreds of thousands of people across the Balkans went without heating on Thursday, some hospitals closed and more factories were idle as the impact on the hardest-hit region in the Russia-Ukraine gas row grew.
Caught up in the gas row in the height of winter, several East European countries are facing a serious crisis, with factories shut down, schools closed and thousands of people left without gas for heating.
As a country solely reliant on Russia for gas supply, Bulgaria has already declared a crisis situation. Croatia has also declared a state of emergency while Hungary has limited gas supplies for industrial use.
The International Energy Agency warned that Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Turkey would have difficulty in generating electricity and heating if the cold weather and gas disruptions continued next week.
The talks in Brussels followed an unexpected meeting between Miller and Dubyna in Moscow earlier Thursday.
It was the first face-to-face contact between the top executives after the flaring up of the Russian-Ukrainian gas row in the new year, to which the EU fell victim.
The Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted Dubyna as saying that the morning meeting ended with no agreement.
Following their separate talks with EU officials, Miller and Dubyna held their second face-to-face meeting in 24 hours in Brussels.
Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on Jan. 1 after the two countries failed to reach a deal on gas prices for 2009.
The row resulted in a complete stoppage of Russian gas flow to Europe through Ukraine on Wednesday, with a dozen European countries facing severe shortages.
About one-fourth of the gas used in the EU comes from Russia.
Ukraine sits on the main transit route of Russia's gas exports, with about 80 percent of Russian gas supplied to the EU passing through it. Source:Xinhua