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January 11, 2009
Russia cuts off natural gas supply
Russia stopped supplying gas to Ukraine on Jan. 1 amid a price dispute and later stopped supplying countries beyond Ukraine because it claimed Kiev was siphoning off the gas. On Sunday, Russia refused to restart gas supplies, saying a recent deal for EU monitors was made void by Ukraine, which signed the document but then issued what it called a "declaration" to accompany it. The breakdown came as a huge swath of central Europe suffered for a sixth consecutive day from the abrupt cutoff of Russian natural gas supplies that has left homes without heat and idled factories and schools.
Russia supplies about one-quarter of the EU's natural gas, 80 percent of it shipped through Ukraine, and the disruption has come as the continent is gripped by subfreezing temperatures in which at least 11 people have frozen to death. The Hungarian capital, Budapest, issuing its first-ever smog alert on Sunday because power plants had switched from natural gas to dirtier fuels. Austria also voiced alarm over neighboring Slovakia's plans to restart an aging Soviet nuclear reactor to get heat for its people. 20 images

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A man is seen behind of a frozen trolley-bus window in Sofia on Jan. 8. Bulgaria struggled to adapt to the gas shortage today as a total cut in Russian deliveries, on which it is entirely dependent for its natural gas needs, ran into its third day. AFP / Getty Images / Dimitar Dilkoff


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A woman puts a piece of wood in her house in Donetsk on Jan. 11. Russian energy giant Gazprom said it was still waiting to receive from Kiev a copy of the document intended to resolve the crisis over EU gas supplies. AFP / Getty Images / Alexander Khudoteply



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Hungarian capital's famous landmarks such as the Parliamemt building and the Chain Bridge over the Danube are seen under a grey blanket of fog and smog after air pollution levels had risen rapidly over several freezing, windless days and Budapest's mayor issued the capital's first full-scale smog alert in Hungary, Sunday, Jan. 11. The smog increase is being caused partly by power plants that were forced to switch from natural gas to more polluting fuels after gas shipments from Russia through Ukraine to Europe were suspended last week. AP / Bela Szandelszky



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People carry collected wood for their heating in Miskolc 110 miles east of Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Jan. 11. Russia's gas shipments to Europe via Ukraine stopped after the two countries had a dispute on pricing and transit fees. AP / Peter Kohalmi



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Jordanka Dimitrichkova 86 years old, who lives alone at her home in a suburb of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, looks out from behind a broken window in her home Sunday, Jan. 11. Natural gas supplies from Russia through Ukraine to Bulgaria and other parts of Europe remain cut off for a sixth day, leaving several countries scrambling to secure alternative energy sources to cope with a cold snap, with factories shut down, schools closed and tens of thousands of people scrambled to find other ways of keeping warm. AP / Petar Petrov



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French EU technical experts walk near a gas pipeline during their visit to the Russian gas-compressor station at Studja near the Russian-Ukrainian border on Jan. 11. Confusion reigned as the first EU observers arrived as delays held up a deal to resume Russian gas supplies to Europe. Russia cut off supplies to Europe this week equivalent to about a fifth of the EU's total consumption, saying it had been forced to do so because Ukraine was blocking transit of the gas in pipelines running through its territory. AFP / Getty Images / Sergie Supinsky



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EU officials listen during their visit the Russian gas-compressor station at Studja near the Russian-Ukrainian border on Jan. 11. AFP / Getty Images / Sergei Supinsky



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An Croatian man adds a log into his stove on Jan. 10, in the village of Tenja, suburb of eastern Croatian town of Osijek, some 200 kilometers east of capital Zagreb. Croatia on Saturday cut gas to major consumers in Zagreb as the supply crisis provoked by a dispute between Russia and Ukraine bit harder and below-freezing temperatures pushed up consumption. Croatia produces 60 percent of its own gas needs, and imports the other 40 percent from Russia. The ex-Yugoslavian country has a population of 4.4 million people, and 600,000 homes use gas heating. AFP / Getty Images / Elvir Tabakovic



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A street vendor warms her self during a cold weather in front of the golden domed Alexander Nevski cathedral the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Saturday, Jan. 10. Natural gas supplies from Russia through Ukraine to Bulgaria and other parts of Europe remain cut off for a fourth day, leaving several countries scrambling to secure alternative energy sources to cope with a cold snap, with factories shut down, schools closed and tens of thousands of people scrambled to find other ways of keeping warm. AP / Petar Petrov



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Homeless men try to stay warm where steam comes out from a restaurant during cold weather in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Saturday, Jan. 10.AP / Petar Petrov



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A man chops firewood near the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Saturday, Jan. 10. AP / Petar Petrov



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A system engineer of the FGSZ Ltd, Hungary's natural gas transporting company, checks the screens showing the country's gas pipeline system in Siofok, Hungary, Saturday, Jan. 10. Hungary is using its gas reserves from storage facilities as Russia's gas shipments to Europe via Ukraine stopped after the two countries continued to dispute pricing, transit fees and outstanding debt. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin insisted Saturday that a written agreement on deployment of EU monitors to Ukraine must be signed before Russia resumes gas shipments to a freezing Europe. AP / Bela Szandelszky



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Belarus employees work at the Yamal-Europe gas transfer station near town of Nesvizh, some 130 kms west of Minsk, on Jan. 9. Deliveries of Russian gas via Ukraine have been halted, but Poland is continuing to receive the bulk of its supplies via a pipeline running through Belarus. Germany still has access to Russian gas via Belarus and authorities say it also has significant reserves. Still the national energy agency has urged authorities to curb their dependence on Russian gas. Belarus has raised tariffs for the transit of Russian oil through its territory to Germany, Poland and Ukraine, under a government order which came into force on Jan. 7 in a widely expected move. AFP / Getty Images / Viktor Drachev



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Snow crystals are seen on a fence outside Brussels, Friday Jan. 9. Hundreds of thousands of homes in Europe remain without heating amid plunging temperatures, following a row over gas between Russia and Ukraine. AP / Virginia Mayo



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A boy chops wooden pallets in the snow to use them for heating next to a Russian made Lada car in the suburbs of Sofia on Jan. 9. Bulgaria, one of Russia's staunchest allies during communism, remained one of the worst hit by the Russia-Ukraine gas row Friday, with no Russian gas coming into the country for the fourth day in a row. AFP / Getty Images / Dimitar Dilkoff



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An elderly woman chops firewood in the snow in the suburbs of Sofia on Jan. 9. Bulgaria, one of Russia's staunchest allies during communism, remained one of the worst hit by the Russia-Ukraine gas row Friday, with no Russian gas coming into the country for the fourth day in a row. AFP / Getty Images / Dimitar Dilkoff



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A girl watches a dog in the suburbs of Sofia on Jan. 9. AFP / Getty Images / Dimitar Dilkoff



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A man reacts as he carries firewoods near Sofia on Jan. 8. Bulgaria struggled to adapt to the gas shortage today as a total cut in Russian deliveries, on which it is entirely dependent for its natural gas needs, ran into its third day. AFP / Getty Images / Dimitar Dilkoff



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A nun and visitor try to stay warm near a wood-burning stove in a monastery near the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Friday, Jan. 9. Gazprom stopped all natural gas shipments to Ukraine on Jan. 1 amid a debt and pricing dispute, but kept pumping supplies to Europe via Ukraine's pipelines until Wednesday, when it halted all deliveries. The cutoff has left more than a dozen countries struggling to cope in the depths of winter. Factories shut down in eastern Europe, schools closed and tens of thousands of people scrambled to find other ways of keeping warm. AP / Petar Petrov



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A visitor warms her hands near a wood-burning stove in a monastery near the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Friday, Jan. 9. Natural gas supplies from Russia through Ukraine to Bulgaria and other parts of Europe remain cut off for a second day, leaving several countries scrambling to secure alternative energy sources to cope with the winter cold snap, and people hard pressed to keep warm. AP / Petar Petrov



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