| GEO World|
| Russia to cut gas to Ukraine after talks fail|
| Updated at: 0037 PST, Thursday, January 01, 2009|
MOSCOW: Russia said it would cut off gas supplies to its pro-Western neighbour Ukraine on Thursday after a talks aimed at ending a standoff that could disrupt European supplies collapsed without result.
Russian energy giant Gazprom said the deliveries would halt at 0700 GMT on Thursday after talks in Moscow on a new contract for 2009 failed to reach an agreement amid differences over new prices and Ukraine's debts.
"From 10:00 am (0700 GMT) on January 1, 2009, Gazprom will fully, 100 percent, stop deliveries of gas to Ukraine," Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said.
"All responsibility lies with the Ukrainian side," told reporters after the talks with officials from Ukrainian gas firm Naftogaz.
"We have the impression that in Ukraine there are political forces that are very interested in there being a gas conflict between the two countries," said Miller.
"Given the absence of a signed contract Gazprom has no judicial basis to deliver gas across its border."
Naftogaz spokesman Valentin Zemlyansky confirmed that the negotiations were over. "The delegation is coming back to Kiev this evening," he said.
In a dramatic move ahead of a midnight deadline, Gazprom earlier produced a letter which it said contained a warning from Naftogaz that Kiev could disrupt the transit of Russian gas being delivered to Europe.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said any violation of supplies of Russian gas to Europe would constitute "a completely different matter with very severe consequences for the transit country."
"Not only in its relations with Russia, as the exporter, but also with consumers in EU countries," he added in a televised meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev.