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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 January 2007, 18:12 GMT
Merkel raps Putin over energy row
By Richard Galpin
BBC News, Moscow

Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin
Merkel said it was crucial to find better ways to communicate
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Russia to improve communications with the EU following the latest crisis over energy supplies.

Mrs Merkel was speaking after holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea city of Sochi.

Earlier this month Moscow stopped pumping oil along a pipeline through Belarus in a dispute with Minsk.

Last year gas supplies were stopped for several days in a dispute with another transit country, Ukraine.

Mrs Merkel, whose country holds the six-month EU presidency, did not pull her punches when it came to the vital issue of energy security.

Europe depends on Russia for a significant proportion of its energy supplies, particularly gas.

The German chancellor had earlier said it was unacceptable that Moscow had failed to inform any of its European customers that it was about to shut down the oil pipeline, a point publicly reinforced during a news conference following her latest meeting with Mr Putin on Sunday.

She said it was critical to find ways to communicate to avoid problems in the future.

In response Mr Putin said Russia was now doing everything possible to develop the means to deliver oil and gas directly to customers in Europe and Asia - in other words avoiding transit countries such as Belarus and Ukraine.

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