Tuesday 12 December 2017

Russia threatens to cut off gas to Ukraine

Residents cook outside their damaged apartment building in Debaltseve, Ukraine (AP)
Residents cook outside their damaged apartment building in Debaltseve, Ukraine (AP)
Members of the separatist self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic army collecting parts of a destroyed Ukrainian army tank in the town of Vuhlehirsk
Members of the Ukrainian armed forces outside Debaltseve yesterday. Photo: REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Independent.ie News Desk

Russia is threatening to switch off gas to Ukraine in a dispute over who should pay for supplies in rebel-held areas.

The quarrel has played out in the background while Ukrainian forces battled pro-Russian separatists in a war that has killed more than 5,600 people.

A European-brokered deal late last year restored Ukraine's supplies through the winter but that is now in jeopardy after the disagreement over supplies in territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists in the east appears to have resurfaced.

Ukraine has cut back on supplies to rebel areas, and has said it would not pay for gas shipped to these areas through pipelines out of its control.

Meanwhile, Moscow said it would supply the rebel areas directly and charge the gas to Kiev's account.

Under its energy deal with Russia, Ukraine has to pay up front of its gas.

Its government announced that it will no longer make any further payments without new guarantees because Moscow failed on Sunday and Monday to deliver gas that had already been purchased.

Gazprom said it had received prepayment for only 219 million cubic metres (mcm) of additional gas, enough for just two days, and would be forced to stop supplies unless more money arrived.

Last year Ukraine survived six mainly warm months without Russian gas during the dispute, and flows to Europe were not affected.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission said Brussels was not concerned that the dispute would hurt supplies to Europe.

"At the moment, gas flows to the EU are normal and we expect that the gas transit to the EU will not be affected," Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen told reporters.


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