Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom is to increase its gas supplies to Europe and neighboring states as severe cold hits the EU, Gazprom export head Alexander Medvedev said on Thursday. \"Our company has built up gas supplies as much as possible not only for European states but also to the CIS countries such as Belarus and Ukraine amid a severe winter in Russia and Europe. We have also increased blue fuel supplies from our underground storages,\" Medvedev said. \"For example, consumption of our gas from European underground storage has grown four times during the last week,\" he said, adding that Europe\'s current daily gas consumption equaled to an annual level of 180 billion cubic meters compared to 150 bcm in 2011. Europe has started consuming more Russian gas due to winter temperatures reaching below minus 30 degrees Celsius. Ukraine is probably the country most affected by these extreme weather conditions. Russia’s neighboring country is now importing natural gas, which is equal to an annual volume of 60 billion cubic meters. \"Ukraine is now consuming gas at an annual volume of 60 billion cu m which is much higher than the contracted volume,\" he said. Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko said in mid-January that Ukraine was seeking to cut Russian gas imports to 27 billion cubic meters from the contracted volume of 52 bcm. Gazprom reacted by saying the current contract did not allow unilateral changes in gas purchase volumes and that Ukraine must pay for unused gas anyway.