Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Europe`s energy security was partly in Ukraine`s hands, as a deadline loomed for Kyiv to pay debts or face a Russian gas cut-off, according to Thompson Financial. `The precise fulfilment of current agreements... is not only in the interests of our two countries,` Putin said at talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.

`This is also a significant factor in ensuring Europe`s energy security.` He was speaking less than an hour before a 6:00 pm Moscow time deadline set by OAO Gazprom for Kyiv to settle a claimed debt of 1.5 bln usd or face a partial cut in energy supplies.

Ukraine is entirely dependent on Russia for energy supplies and is also the main export route for Russian gas to the European Union. Putin and Yushchenko were holding last-ditch talks at the Kremlin. Energy officials from the two neighbouring countries have also been negotiating since Monday.