Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday he hopes Ukraine will meet its obligation to transit Russian oil to Europe despite a dispute on transit fees, RIA Novosti reported.

"We hope they [obligations] will be fulfilled," Putin told reporters, commenting on ongoing talks on Ukraine's demand to increase shipment tariffs.

Slovakia's government said on Monday that Russia had warned the EU of a possible cutoff of supplies to Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary due to transit fee disagreements with Ukraine.

The warning echoed the two-week cutoff of Russian natural gas supplies to the European Union in early January this year amid a price and debt dispute between the two ex-Soviet neighbors.

Ukraine later in the day moved to calm fears, saying the dispute will not affect supplies to Eastern Europe. And Russia's Energy Ministry said the deal for 2010 will be reached in the next two days.

The ministry said Russia had warned the EU of a possible disruption in line with its obligations of "early warning" about potential energy risks.

Putin said rows with transit nations have undermined Russia's image as an energy supplier, prompting Moscow to seek alternative pipeline routes. He accused transit nations of blackmailing Russia and illegally re-exporting its energy resources.

Russia had several disputes with Ukraine in winter 2006 and 2009 which affected consumers in Europe. Another ex-Soviet transit nation, Belarus, cut Russian oil supplies to the EU in January 2007 also amid a price row.

Ukraine transits about 80% of Russian gas shipments to the European Union, and itself relies on Russian supplies. Ukraine, like Belarus, is a major transit route for oil pumped to Eastern Europe via the Druzhba pipeline.


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