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The evidence is circumstantial. The most compelling is the much lower prices that continue to be charged to some other former Soviet Republics. Ukraine is being asked for $230 per thousand cubic metres. Recent contracts with Belarus specify a price of $47, and deals with Armenia and Georgia are for around $110. In addition, suspicions have been raised by the deal made by Gazprom with Turkmenistan, Ukraine's biggest gas supplier. Gazprom has agreed to buy 30 billion cubic metres of Turkmen gas, more than it usually does, and that could limit Ukraine's options
Russia will continue to use the price hikes to their advantage, using natural resources as a power tool.
Both Putin and Yushchenko are using the "gas war'' for political gain, said Markov, the Kremlin political consultant.
The Yushchenko election committee wants this gas war very much because if the election campaign continues on the path it's on now, Yushchenko won't win, Markov said. They want to provoke Gazprom to stop supply and organize a huge anti-Russian campaign -- to rally the people around the flag.''
Yushchenko said last week that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency engineered the gas dispute to help Yushchenko in the March elections. The feud worsened after Yushchenko met with CIA Director Porter Goss in Crimea, said Yanukovych, a former prime minister, on Russian state television.
Russia says it will pump more gas to Europe after various countries said their supplies had fallen by up to 40% after Moscow cut Ukraine's provision.
Relations between Russia and Ukraine have been tense since President Viktor Yushchenko came to power last year on a promise to strengthen relations with the EU and Nato, and steer the country out of Russia's sphere of influence.