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Putin wants to hear of ways to handle cold

Feb. 10, 2012 at 6:34 AM

MOSCOW, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- All general services, including utilities, need to be prepared to handle the unusually cold temperatures in the region, the Russian prime minister said.

Europeans are in the midst of a brutal cold snap, with hundreds of people dead and thousands of residents stranded under heavy snow.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told emergency officials during a teleconference call that the weather has caused concerns in Russia.

"What is being done by the utility companies and at the regional and federal levels to assist people and to resolve these problems and what is in store for the future?" he asked.

Russian natural gas company Gazprom said earlier this month it was struggling to keep up with energy demand during the cold spell. The company for 2012, however, plans to increase exports to Europe from 5.2 trillion cubic feet to 5.4 trillion cubic feet, analysts familiar with Gazprom's plans told Bloomberg News on condition of anonymity.

Gazprom supplies Europe with more than 20 percent of its natural gas. Most of that runs through the Soviet-era transit system in Ukraine.

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