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EU examines risks of Russian gas shortage

Friday report finds cooperation across Europe can mitigate risks.

By Daniel J. Graeber

BRUSSELS, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- If members of the European Union show some solidarity, they'll be able to cope with a potential Russian gas shortage, the European energy commissioner said.

The European Commission unveiled a report Friday highlighting the short-term recommendations needed to stave off a possible winter gas shortage.

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"For the very first time, we have a complete picture of the risks and possible solutions," Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said in a statement. "If we work together, show solidarity and implement the recommendations of this report, no household in the EU has to be left out in the cold this winter."

Multilateral meetings in Milan are aimed at resolving a geopolitical crisis in Ukraine that spills over into the regional energy sector. Ukraine's political upheaval in November left an already battered economy short on cash and the billions of dollars Kiev owes to Russian energy company Gazprom leaves downstream European consumers at risk.

Europe gets about a quarter of its gas needs met by Russia, though most of that runs through the Soviet-era pipeline network in Ukraine.

Oettinger said if EU member states coordinate their energy responses, rather than rely on national measures, there will be few impacts from a Russia gas shutoff. Any government intervention should come as a last resort, the report finds.

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