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Russia Putin says neighbours fulfilling energy deals

MOSCOW, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Wednesday downplayed the prospects for a New Year’s energy dispute with neighbouring states, saying Ukraine and Belarus are fulfilling existing contracts.

“For now, we have agreements with all our partners,” the prime minister told reporters. “The current contracts are signed and are being fulfilled.”

Supply cut offs on Russia’s westward-bound pipeline networks have become routine in recent years as a result of disputes over prices and volumes.

Putin also said he still supports a previously mooted merger between Russia's Gazprom GAZP.MM and state-owned Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz.

“I do not think this proposal is worthless. Naftogaz will become a minority shareholder but it will become a minority shareholder of a large global company and as such will have its own voice,” Putin said.

Ukraine rejected the proposal earlier this year.

Reporting by Gleb Bryanski, writing by Alfred Kueppers