Russia-Ukraine gas row disrupts supplies to EU

Russia and Ukraine looked no closer to compromise today over a gas row that has disrupted supplies to at least four European Union countries as they face freezing winter temperatures.



Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria have reported drops in supplies after Russian state-controlled gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) cut off Ukraine on New Year's Day in a row over prices.



Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has so far not seen supplies drop. The European Union, which gets about a fifth of its gas from pipelines that cross Ukraine, has demanded that transit and supply contracts be honoured.



But Russia and Ukraine's gas companies traded allegations throughout Saturday, indicating the prospect of a swift resolution to the row could be remote.



Gazprom said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had approved its move to take Ukraine's state-run gas company, Naftogaz, to the arbitration court in Stockholm over gas transit to Europe.



Naftogaz said it planned to file a counter-suit against Gazprom in Stockholm if the gas giant took it to court.



Ukraine, reeling from an economic crisis, said the higher gas price being proposed by Gazprom would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe and warned of "serious problems" for transit supplies to the EU if the row was not resolved in 10 to 15 days.



Moscow says Kiev is stealing gas intended for Europe and playing political games. Ukraine accused Russia of using "energy blackmail" and of not providing enough gas for the proper functioning of the transit system.



A similar dispute briefly disrupted supplies to Europe three years ago. That crisis prompted calls for the EU to diversify its energy supplies, but it has struggled to break its reliance on Russian gas.



The European Union has called an emergency meeting of envoys for Monday to discuss the row, which has again placed Russia's reputation as a reliable gas supplier under intense scrutiny.



Russia's ties with the West are still fraught after it waged a war with Georgia last August, and some policymakers see parallels with Russia's treatment of Ukraine which, like Georgia, has angered the Kremlin by seeking to join NATO.



European Union president the Czech Republic said on Saturday it would not get involved in the row between Moscow and Kiev.



"We refuse to be participants or arbiters in this dispute that we consider a business dispute," said Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra. "Russia and Ukraine must agree fast."



Vondra said EU countries had sufficient reserves for now but that complications could arise if the dispute dragged on.



Gazprom, which says the row is purely about business with no political motives, said Kiev was not ready to resume talks.



"Since 31 December, Ukraine has refused to negotiate with Gazprom, and instead has resorted to siphoning off gas intended for European customers," Gazprom deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev said in a statement on Sunday.



Ukraine's Naftogaz has repeatedly denied it is stealing Russian gas destined for Europe. Naftogaz chief Oleh Dubyna said his officials were ready to go to Moscow at any moment to resume talks and sign a mutually acceptable deal.



"Russia is not giving enough gas for the transit system to work," Dubyna told reporters on Saturday.



The gulf between the two sides remains vast.



Russia said it was prepared to charge Ukraine $250 per 1,000 cubic metres this year before talks collapsed and now wants Kiev to pay $418. Dubyna said that price could tip Ukraine into a humanitarian crisis.



He said that even if Ukraine agreed to pay $250 instead of the $179.5 paid in 2008, it would ask Moscow to raise gas transit fees it pays to Ukraine by 40 percent. Moscow says it already has a transit contract to 2010.



Naftogaz also said Moscow could choose to return to an old barter arrangement, under which Moscow would give Ukraine fuel in exchange for gas transit to Europe. Gazprom described that proposal as "beyond commercial logic."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Psychology Teacher

Main Teacher Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: Teacher of Psychology An en...

International Promotions Manager - Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: A global entertainment busi...

Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: This new opportunity has responsibilities des...

Geography Teacher

£19200 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?