EU warns Russia against using gas for politics _lowres

Associated Press photo by Pavel Golovkin -- Reporters listen to Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech, displayed on TV screens during a nationally televised question-and-answer session Thursday in Moscow.. Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Thursday dismissed claims that Russian special forces are fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine as 'nonsense,' but expressed hope for success of four-way talks on settling the crisis.

BRUSSELS — The European Union is warning Russia that interfering with gas deliveries to Ukraine to apply political pressure would backfire by damaging its reputation as a reliable supplier for the EU.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a letter on behalf of the EU’s 28 governments that Russia’s “contractual reliability as a supplier of gas is at stake in this matter.”

The letter to Russia’s President released Thursday was the bloc’s joint response to Vladimir Putin’s threat last week that Moscow might cut off gas supplies to Ukraine and the pipelines shipping gas to western Europe through Ukrainian territory if Kiev fails to pay its debts.

Barroso stressed stable deliveries are in both sides’ interest.

The EU is Russia’s biggest trading partner and oil and gas client.