Putin turns screw with threat to cut off gas supply unless Kiev pays first
Europe could face a gas crisis at the end of the week, with Russian president Vladimir Putin threatening to stop supply to Ukraine unless it receives advance payment.
The 147 billion cubic metres of gas Russia last year delivered to Europe represented about a third of the continent's needs, and 40pc of that arrived via Ukraine.
Mr Putin (pictured) yesterday claimed that, as stipulated in the Kiev-Moscow energy contract hashed out late last year, Russian gas giant Gazprom "will suspend deliveries" if it is not prepaid. He said: "This may create a threat to transit to Europe, to our European partners.
"We hope that gas supplies will not be interrupted. But this does not depend only on us, it depends on the financial discipline of our Ukrainian partners."
Around the time of the annexation of Crimea, Russia turned off the gas to Ukraine, the third time it has done so in the last 10 years.
The energy-based relationship between the countries continues to be treated as a battleground in the regional conflict, with President Putin particularly unhappy that Kiev has stopped supplying gas to territories run by pro-Russian rebels.
He said: "Imagine these people will be left without gas in winter.
"Not only that, there is famine. It smells of genocide."
Ukraine reportedly has enough gas for the remainder of the week, and Russia is currently directly supplying the country's rebel-controlled regions.
Russian company Gazprom is at the centre of the diplomatic crisis.
Alexei Miller, the head of Gazprom, told the head of Ukrainian state energy company, Naftogaz, in a letter that Kiev had only three days left of prepaid gas deliveries from Russia.
After that, Interfax news agency cited Miller as saying Ukraine would be cut off. (© Independent News Service)
Independent News Service