Putin, Prodi discuss natural gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine

STRELNA, July 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's president and Italy's prime minister have discussed the issue of natural gas supplies to Europe through Ukrainian territory, Romano Prodi said Monday.

Russia's record as a stable energy supplier came under attack after it cut off natural-gas supplies to Ukraine in January. Although Europe-bound supplies of Russian natural gas were supposed to remain unaffected, energy giant Gazprom said Ukraine had tapped off some gas traveling through two pipelines on its territory and European consumers registered a shortfall that led to calls for diversification.

After being asked whether Ukraine had been mentioned during the G8 summit as a partner in the transit of energy resources to Europe, Prodi said Ukraine had not been discussed at the G8 meeting but he and Putin had talked about the issue.

Prodi, a former president of the European Commission, said Italy was greatly concerned by the difficulties over gas supplies to Europe, caused by a conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

We said that we would like all of our storage facilities to be filled before the winter because Italy must receive enough gas, he said.

Gazprom said earlier that Ukraine was falling behind schedule in filling its underground storage facilities, which should ensure steady gas supplies to Europe.

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