Ukraine's prime minister on Tuesday announced his country had itself decided to halt Russian natural gas imports, and accused Russian officials of twisting the facts in suggesting they had cut his country off from supplies amid a deepening trade war and electricity blackouts to Russian-annexed Crimea.

"They [the Russians] have become confused," Arseniy Yatseniuk said in announcing his cabinet had adopted a decision to halt purchases of Russian gas.

He said:

It's not they who have stopped supplying us with gas, but we who have stopped buying gas from them. This is being done foremost as prices proposals which came from our European partners are more attractive.

Mr Yatseniuk also noted that diversification of supply efforts have broken Ukraine's dependency on Russian imports, and that gas consumption has plunged by some 20 per cent this year due to economic contraction and energy efficiency efforts which will continue.

In a statement that preceded Mr Yatseniuk's announcement, Ukraine's state gas company Naftogaz, which insists it has stockpiled ample supplies of gas for peak winter demand periods, moved to put down concerns that Ukraine's decision to halt Russian gas purchases could -- for a third time since 2006 -- trigger supply disruptions to Europe, which receives much of its Russian gas through Ukrainian pipelines.

Andriy Kobolyev, Naftogaz's CEO, said:

During the past 18 months we have demonstrated that we can ensure stable transmission of Russian gas regardless of whether we get it for Ukraine or not, both in the summer and the winter seasons. At this time a year ago we did not buy any gas from Russia, having less gas in storages and smaller import capacities from the EU. As far as we are aware, both Gazprom and its clients are satisfied with the quality and reliability of our transmission services.