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Russia says Europe gas flow to restart at 0700 GMT

  Russia said it would resume gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine at 0700 GMT on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after a Moscow-Kiev contract row cut flows to European countries in mid-winter.

The order to start pumping gas again followed the signing of a 10-year gas contract between Moscow and Kiev and late-night talks between Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Russia's Gazprom gas export monopoly.

Officials have said it would take 36 hours or more after the restart for the pipeline system to become operational again and for gas to reach Europe, parts of which have had to ration supplies to households and businesses because of the dispute. “From 10 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Jan. 20, Gazprom and (Ukrainian state energy company) Naftogaz will start to bring the system into normal operation for supply and transit,” Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told Reuters.

“(This is) in accordance with instructions which were issued at 4 a.m. by the heads of the two companies,” he said after the talks between Tymoshenko and Gazprom officials, which lasted until the early hours of Tuesday.

The European Union, which tried with mounting frustration over the past two weeks to broker a deal, said it would not consider the crisis over until its monitors verified that gas had reached the bloc. “For the EU, the decisive moment will come when renewed supplies are registered at its borders,” Martin Riman, industry minister for the Czech Republic, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, said on Monday. (Reuters)