Saturday, January 10, 2009

Russia/Ukraine Gas Dispute Continues

Russian and Ukrainian officials continue to bicker over a deal leading to the resumption of Russian gas supplies, squelching hopes for an end to a dispute leaving parts of Europe in the cold and dark.

Russia wants monitors in place to prevent what it described as Ukraine's theft of supplies meant for Europe — a charge Kiev hotly denies.

Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko rejected the notion.

Gazprom halted all natural gas shipments through Ukraine on Wednesday, ending or reducing gas supplies to more than a dozen European nations amid a pricing dispute with Kiev. For years since the break-up of the Soviet Union Russia has sold gas to Ukraine and some other ex-Soviet neighbors at prices significantly less than European prices.

Russian President Medvedev has said that Ukraine should pay a European price for the Russian gas. Last year, Russia charged Ukraine $179.50 per 1,000 cubic meters, about half what it charged its European customers. Russia's last offer before talks broke down was $250, but Gazprom said the offer no longer stands after Ukraine rejected it and that it will charge Ukraine $450.

EU governments have criticized both Russia and Ukraine for the gas crisis, saying it was unacceptable to see homes unheated, businesses closed and schools shut down in the middle of winter because of the commercial squabble.

Russia, Ukraine and the EU all said the final agreement could be finalized soon, but officials remained coy about what prevented the deal from being completed Friday as hoped.

No comments: