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Russia cut off the natural gas it sends to Europe through Ukraine on Wednesday when a payment dispute escalated. Russia claims Ukraine siphoned off gas for its own use. Ukraine denies this. Russia stopped all natural gas supplies to Ukraine on 1 January, but kept supplies flowing to Europe through Ukraine’s pipelines until Wednesday, when all deliveries were stopped. At least 15 nations – Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey – all reported a halt in Russian gas shipments by Wednesday. Germany and Poland also reported substantial drops in supplies. Author and political economist William Engdahl believes the dispute forms part of a strategy by Ukraine to “gain geopolitical influence with the west.”

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F William Engdahl is an economist and author and the writer of the best selling book "A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order." Mr Engdhahl has written on issues of energy, politics and economics for more than 30 years, beginning with the first oil shock in the early 1970s. Mr. Engdahl contributes regularly to a number of publications including Asia Times Online, Asia, Inc, Japan's Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Foresight magazine; Freitag and ZeitFragen newspapers in Germany and Switzerland respectively. His newest book is called "Gods of Money: Wall Street and the Death of the American Century". He is based in Germany.