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An escalating natural gas price dispute between Russia and Ukraine, which included shutting off gas supplies to the former Soviet state, has begun to disrupt supplies to other European nations.
Russian gas is also no longer flowing to Austria, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia.
Other countries severely affected by the crisis include Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, and Turkey.
The shortages come during the cold of winter, with nations as far west as France, Germany, Italy and Poland potentially being affected in coming days.
In the midst of sub-zero temperatures, the eastern European states, which do not have gas reserves, are most affected. Bulgaria, the poorest member of the EU and 100% dependent on Russian gas, resorted to rationing, but its supplies may only last for a few days. According to reports, at least 15,000 Bulgarian households are without gas heating. Dozens of schools were closed and some factories were shut down. Companies and domestic consumers were urged to use alternative fuels.
Slovakia and Romania declared states of emergency.
With the problem growing worse by the day, the EU sent a strong message to Russia and Ukraine, stating the two must solve their disagreements as soon as possible.
“Friday really seems to be a very critical day. We might be forced to resort to other forms of action,” said Mirek Topolanek, prime minister of the Czech Republic, whose country currently holds the EU rotating presidency. “It is a critical date for many counties as there is no gas in pipes” (The Telegraph).
He also warned, “There is a political dimension to the problem. If supplies are not restored tomorrow, then we will have to see a strong EU intervention” (ibid.).