Ammunition and landmines lie near a destroyed military vehicle of pro-Russian separatists just outside the eastern Ukrainian town of Slaviansk July 7, 2014. (REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)
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A clutch of countries is breaking ranks with the EU's efforts to put economic and diplomatic pressure on Russia over Ukraine and building a pipeline meant to carry huge amounts of Russian gas to their doorstep.But their defiance of a European Union stop work order is more significant than just another missed chance for Europe to call out the Kremlin. Russian natural gas already accounts for around a third of the EU's needs. The South Stream pipeline could increase Russian supplies to Europe by another 25 percent, potentially boosting Moscow's leverage long after the Ukraine crisis fades.The European Commission, the EU executive, has ordered a construction moratorium over concerns with Russia's dual role as pipeline owner and gas supplier.Many countries in central and eastern Europe already get much of their gas from Russia, making them ill-placed to criticize South Stream.A direct Russian pipeline to Estonia meets 100 percent of its gas needs.Bulgarian Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev said the idea of some countries benefiting from direct Russian gas shipments while expecting his country to wait out the Ukraine crisis is "unacceptable".
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