Moscow halts gas supply to Poland and Bulgaria

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Russia has cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, both members of the European Union and NATO, intensifying its confrontation with Ukraine's allies in a move the continent's leaders labeled “gas blackmail.”

Russia’s state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom said early Wednesday it had suspended gas supplies to the two countries after they refused to pay for the shipments in rubles.

The move marked an escalation of the Kremlin's efforts to weaken the resolve of those supporting Ukraine's defensive stand with sanctions and military support. Europe relies heavily on Russian energy supplies, and the halt ratcheted up the economic stakes in a standoff that increasingly resembles the Cold War.

In a surprise deal, Russia on Wednesday released former Marine Trevor Reed in a prisoner exchange with the U.S., a diplomatic maneuver made all the more extraordinary because the war with Russia has driven relations to their lowest point in decades.

President Joe Biden is expected to ask Congress to fund a new supplemental aid package for Ukraine on Thursday morning. The extra funding is intended to last for the next five months.

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