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MOSCOW, April 11 (Reuters) - European leaders have not yet responded to Vladimir Putin’s appeal for urgent talks to resolve questions surrounding Ukraine’s debt to Moscow for natural gas and possible effects on supplies, the Russian president’s spokesman said on Friday.
Dmitry Peskov also hit back after the United States accused Russia of using energy as a tool of coercion, saying the United States is not a customer and has no business questioning the price Moscow charges Ukraine for gas.
Russia has nearly doubled that price since a Ukrainian president sympathetic to Russia was ousted by pro-Western foes in February, prompting an East-West standoff aggravated by Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region last month.
In a letter on Thursday to leaders of 18 European nations that buy Russian gas, Putin warned that supplies could be disrupted if Moscow cuts the flow to Ukraine over unpaid bills, and proposed talks on what he called an urgent situation.
“As of this moment, there is no response,” Peskov told reporters.
He said it would be pointless to talk with the United States and that discussions with the European Union “would not be fully fledged without the participation of the consumer countries”, indicating Moscow does not want to negotiate with the EU alone.
Responding to U.S. criticism, Peskov said “it is hard to understand American assessments ... of the fairness or unfairness of the price because this assessment is being given by a third party that has no relation to the European gas market.” (Reporting by Denis Dyomkin; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Steve Gutterman and Catherine Evans)