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Putin Could Stop Selling Gas to Ukraine. Here's Why He Won't

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with ministers to discuss the situation in Ukraine and natural gas transportation to Europe on April 9
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with ministers to discuss the situation in Ukraine and natural gas transportation to Europe on April 9Photograph by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

For a time this week, Vladimir Putin looked ready to turn off the gas. In an April 10 letter to 18 European heads of state, he warned that Russia could “completely or partially cease gas deliveries” to Ukraine, in turn threatening Western Europe, which gets about 15 percent of its natural gas from Russia via Ukrainian pipelines.

But on April 11, the Kremlin appeared to soften its stance, saying that Russia didn’t plan to cut off Ukraine’s supply and promising it would honor its contracts with European customers.