A senior Ukrainian official says European consumers will see serious natural gas shortages in only two weeks if Moscow and Kiev don't solve their dispute over gas supplies.

Bohdan Sokolovsky's statement raises the stakes in an escalating row between the two neighbors.

Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on New Year's Day after the two countries failed to resolve payment issues or agree on a price contract for 2009.

Most Russian gas bound for Europe travels through Ukraine.

Sokolovsky said Saturday even though Ukraine will continue shipping Russian gas intended for Europe, disruptions in supplies will occur in the next 10 to 15 days if Ukraine's gas is not shipped along with it.

He said the pipelines require a minimum amount of gas to avoid an automatic shutdown.