Pipelines are seen at a gas compressor station in Sudzha in Russia's Kursk region, January 11, 2009, in this photo. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
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European officials Friday took a step toward creating a web of natural gas pipelines across the region's southeast as a way to reduce the threat of Russia choking off supplies.Fifteen nations, more than half of them from the former Soviet bloc, endorsed an action plan to improve energy infrastructure and ultimately to ensure each of them maintains three separate sources of supply. The crisis in Ukraine and Russia's decision in December to cancel a $45 billion gas pipeline to Europe shocked nations from Austria to Bulgaria. The commission wants to encourage them to work together on protecting energy supply. Russia supplies 27 percent of the gas that feeds the European Union, some of which travels through pipelines crossing Ukraine. The EU strategy is to make gas supplies more flexible by building additional pipelines across the southeast.Commission officials proposed a high-level group of ministers to discuss strengthening the gas network two months after Putin canceled South Stream.
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