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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prodi Says Ukraine Gas Is a Worry

ST. PETERSBURG -- Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi urged Ukraine on Monday to fill its gas reserves to avoid repeating January's supply crunch, when Russia cut its gas supplies to Ukraine and disrupted European imports.

Speaking at a news conference at the end of the Group of Eight summit, Prodi said he had discussed the issue privately with President Vladimir Putin.

"We didn't talk about Ukraine in the G8 [group meetings]. I discussed the problem extensively in my bilateral with Putin because we Italians are worried, deeply worried when the news we have is that Ukraine has not filled the deposits," Prodi said.

Speaking in English to a Ukrainian reporter he added: "We expressed to your government, and we still express to your government our will, our desire, that before winter, all the deposits will be filled because in case of necessity Italy must receive the gas in due quantity."

Italian Economic Development Minister Pierluigi Bersani said last week Italy risked being hit again by shortages of supplies coming from Russia.

Ukraine, through whose territory Russia sends 80 percent of its gas exports to Europe, has not been adequately replenishing its own reserves, Bersani said.

Italy receives about 30 percent of its gas from Russia.

Italy had to tap into emergency reserves last winter when Russian gas supplies fell due to a pricing row between Russian gas monopoly Gazprom and its Ukrainian counterpart, Naftogaz.