President Vladimir Putin has told European leaders a dispute over Ukraine's gas debt to Russia could affect supplies of Russian gas to Europe and proposed urgent discussions on the matter, his spokesman said on Thursday.
The remarks were the strongest sign yet that Russia could curtail supplies of gas to Ukraine, which could increase tension between Moscow and Kiev and aggravate the worst crisis in East-West ties since the Cold War.
"The situation is urgent," Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said after Putin sent a letter expressing deep concern about Ukraine's $2.2 billion gas debt and warning of a possible impact on the transit of Russian gas to the European Union.
In the letter, Putin proposed "mechanisms of dialogue for urgent discussions of the situation that has developed," Peskov said. He did not give any details about the proposal or say which leaders were addressed.