The Bush administration criticized Russia on Tuesday for imposing limits on natural gas supplies to Europe by reducing Ukraine's share through a pipeline that carries about 80 percent of Russian gas exports to the West.

A decision by Russia to restore most of the gas it had withheld Monday in a pricing dispute "does not resolve the issue," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

Noting that Europe was in the midst of winter's cold, McCormack decried "the use of energy for political purposes."

He noted that Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, was due to hold parliamentary elections. And yet, McCormack also said he was not trying to discern Russia's motives in limiting supplies and proposing a sharp boost in gas prices.

McCormack said State Department officials were talking to both governments to try to help resolve the dispute.

Russia has acussed Ukraine of trying to steal its share of gas from Europe, an allegation that Ukraine rejects and the State Department declined to address.