WASHINGTON, April 10 The United States on
Thursday said it condemned Russian efforts to use energy as a
"tool of coercion" in its dispute with Ukraine.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Russia had
reneged on an agreement with Ukraine that offered reduced
natural gas prices in exchange for a 25-year lease on Black Sea
"We condemn Russia's efforts to use energy as a tool of
coercion against Ukraine," she said. "Ukraine is now paying $485
(1,000 cubic meters), a price clearly not set by market forces
and well above the average price paid by EU members.
"The United States is taking immediate steps to assist
Ukraine, including the provision of emergency finance, technical
assistance in the areas of energy security, energy efficiency,
energy sector reform."
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday warned
European leaders that Russia would cut natural gas supplies to
Ukraine if it did not pay its bills and said this could lead to
a reduction of onward deliveries to Europe.
Russia, a key provider of natural gas, recently annexed the
Crimea region from Ukraine.
(Reporting by Bill Trott; Editing by Sandra Maler)