Raid 'Discredits' Ukraine: Putin

MOSCOW, Russia -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said the recent raid at Ukraine's state gas company 'discredits' the country and could push Russia to find an alternative route for gas supplies to Europe.

Vladimir Putin

Last week Ukrainian security service agents burst into the headquarters of Naftogaz to conduct a search, in a dramatic display of the country's internal tensions.

The SBU security service - the successor to the Soviet KGB which is overseen by President Viktor Yushchenko - said the raid was aimed at seizing documents for a criminal investigation into the seizure of billions of cubic metres of gas.

The SBU was searching for contracts with Gazprom, the Russian energy giant whose stand-off with Naftogaz sparked a crisis that seriously disrupted gas supplies to Europe in January.

'That (raid) discredits the country and forces us to think about alternatives for sending Russian gas to Europe,' Mr Putin said on Tuesday during a press conference.

The January dispute between Russia and Ukraine resulted in the cutting of Russian gas supplies to Europe for almost two weeks, triggering the European Union's worst ever energy crisis.

The crisis ended with a contract between Naftogaz and Gazprom after Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, Yushenko's rival, hammered out a deal with Putin.

Source: AFP