Russia shut down all gas flows to Europe through Ukraine on Wednesday, sharpening a dispute that has left industries and homes in southeast Europe without power and disrupted supplies to major economies.
The row over gas prices and debts owed by Ukraine to Russia cut heating to tens of thousands of households in Bulgaria and hit supplies as far west as France and Germany as Europe faced freezing mid-winter temperatures.
Kiev and Moscow blamed each other for the cut in supplies and the European Union said they should allow an EU monitoring mission to check how much gas was entering Ukraine from Russia.
"If this is agreed, nothing will stand in the way for transit supplies to be restored...That does not mean that success is 100 percent assured," Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said. The two sides will meet in Brussels on Thursday and the EU said they appeared willing to accept monitors.
Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom said it had fully suspended supplies of transit gas toward Ukraine on Wednesday after accusing Kiev of keeping it.
Gazprom said it was increasing supplies to the European Union and Turkey via other routes. Despite those measures, the dispute cut Russia's supplies to Europe -- which depends on Moscow for a quarter of its gas supplies -- by half.
And, yes, the relatives are freezing. There's not a lot we can do either.
This is only going to get worse too. :(