April 11 - President Vladimir Putin says Russia would fulfill its obligations to European gas clients and had no plans to halt deliveries to Ukraine. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Tensions mix with rain in eastern Ukraine Friday as world powers continue to debate amid the biggest East-West crisis since the Cold War. Energy is at part of the core of the debate with Russian President Vladimir Putin promising not to turn off the gas to Ukraine or Western Europe. He says Ukraine needs to pay its bills and will likely have to pay up front in the future. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, SAYING: "On April 7 of this year, there was a deadline to pay for gas for March. Of over 500 million dollars, 540 million, I think, not a single dollar has been paid, not a single rouble, nothing at all, zero. The situation is absolutely intolerable." As for Europe he says it is up to Ukraine. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, SAYING: "We certainly guarantee fulfillment of all our obligations to our European consumers. The question is not about us. The question is about providing transit across Ukraine." Putin sent a letter to the leaders of 18 European countries that buy Russian gas Thursday warning that deliveries could be disrupted if state-controlled Gazprom cut supplies to Ukraine and calling for urgent talks to seek a solution. Putin's spokesman said earlier on Friday that the European nations had not yet responded to the letter, prompting the U.S. to accuse Russia of using energy as a "tool of coercion." = Putin says Russia to honor gas deals with Europe President Vladimir Putin says Russia would fulfill its obligations to European gas clients and had no plans to halt deliveries to Ukraine. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.