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Russia shuts off supply of natural gas to Ukraine

Gazprom, the Russian-owned gas giant, stopped supplying natural gas to Ukraine on Monday, further signaling that months-long tensions between the two countries aren't going away anytime soon. The energy company said Kiev failed to meet a deadline to pay off its more than $4 billion in unpaid bills, and thus would not receive any more natural gas unless it pays up front.

"Gazprom supplies to Ukraine only the amount that has been paid for, and the amount that has been paid for is zero," said a company spokesman. A Ukrainian energy official confirmed that the supply of gas ended this morning. The move, however, doesn't mean Ukraine will be without gas. The country's prime minister said it could go without new supplies until December, if necessary.

But over the long haul, Russia's decision could cause a gas shortage through Europe, since Ukraine's pipes provide a crucial link between Europe and Russia.