Daily Mail

Twelve European countries are now without gas as a bitter row between Russia and Ukraine continued to escalate.

millions of people struggled to cope with freezing conditions,

Russia turned off three major pipelines that pass through the Ukraine after a disagreement over the amount it should be pay for the commodity.

Supplies have dwindled throughout this week and today Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic confirmed their pipelines were empty.

Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Turkey are already out of gas.

Italy suffered a 90 per cent plunge, France was down 70 per cent and Germany was affected for the first time.

Britain, however, is unlikely to run out of gas as only two per cent of supplies come from Russia

There is little sign of resolution to the row with Moscow and Kiev both blaming each other for cutting supply.

Russia has accused Ukraine of ‘stealing’ about 15 per cent of the gas it ships across its former Soviet neighbour to European states.

‘Ukraine has stolen gas not from Russia, but from consumers who have bought the product and paid for it,’ Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said.

Ukraine’s pro-West President Viktor Yushchenko blamed Moscow for the supply disruptions, saying Moscow would continue to close the gas taps to Europe or stop them altogether

Europe, the move has plunged many countries into crisis.

Two Bulgarian cities are completely without gas while shortages in Slovakia has forced the government to declare a state of emergency.

Bulgaria’s President Georgi Purvanov even suggested a nuclear reactor branded unsafe could be brought back into service to cover shortages.

Ferran Tarradellas, spokesman for the EU energy commissioner, said: ‘It is indeed a crisis, a serious one.’

‘We are demanding that they restore gas supplies to the EU immediately.’

Last night, Britain’s biggest energy supplier warned gas bills could soar if the dispute over payment is not resolved soon.

Before yesterday’s jump, the price of gas on the wholesale market had fallen by about 30 per cent since the middle of last year, mirroring the big fall in the oil price.

Freezing temperatures yesterday saw demand for gas in the UK reach its highest level since January 2004.

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