BRATISLAVA Russian President Vladimir Putin has informed multiple European states that Moscow will not supply gas to Europe through Ukraine as of June 1 if Kiev does not pay its bills, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Thursday.
Fico, speaking to reporters after meeting NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the most pressing threat facing Slovakia was the question of deliveries from Russia that pass through Ukraine.
"Today, multiple member states including Slovakia were informed by President Putin that as of June 1, if Ukraine does not pay for supplied gas, it will not be supplied to the European territory," Fico said.
"It is a serious threat to the energy security of Slovakia."
Fico was not referring to deliveries to Europe via the Nordstream pipeline but rather through the one in Ukraine which carries almost half of European supplies from Russia.
Earlier on Thursday, Putin said Russian gas exporter Gazprom had been forced to demand Ukraine pay in advance for gas as of June after its debt for gas already delivered reached $3.5 billion.
Putin also urged European leaders to do more to help Ukraine through its economic crisis and to resolve the standoff over gas, repeating a threat to cut exports if Kiev fails to pay in advance for June deliveries.
Moscow has reduced gas supplies to Kiev during two past price disputes, causing disruptions to supplies to Europe as recently as 2009.
(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Writing by Michael Kahn; editing by Jason Neely and Elaine Hardcastle)