Russian gas begins to flow into wary Europe

Siberian gas started flowing into the EU yesterday, ending the bitter dispute between Russia and Ukraine that shredded both countries' reputations as fuel suppliers and left Europe desperately seeking to shift its energy policies away from dependence on Russian monopolies.

A new 10-year deal on gas pricing and transit between the Russian and Ukrainian state gas firms, Gazprom and Naftogaz, saw Russia pumping the gas through Ukraine's pipelines to Slovakia in the EU while Kiev allowed the fuel to flow without interruption.

The resumption of supplies appeared to end the worst, so far, of a series of disputes of distinctly political hue between Russia and its former Soviet underling, Ukraine.

After an agreement between the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, and his Ukrainian counterpart, Yuliya Tymoshenko, European leaders congratulated themselves on their mediation efforts but gave warning that the three-week gas dispute served as a rude awakening.

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