Russia Turns Off Ukraine’s Gas Supply
Published: June 18, 2014 (Issue # 1816)
MOSCOW — Russia’s Gazprom on Monday cut off gas supplies to Ukraine and moved its neighbor to a system of prepayment until Kiev’s “indisputable” debt for previous deliveries is settled.
After three rounds of intense talks in recent weeks the two sides failed to come to an agreement on the price of gas already delivered and, therefore, on Ukraine’s total debt to Russia. They also failed to agree on the terms governing Ukraine’s future gas purchases under the new prepayment system.
“The logic of the Ukrainian government is to give us low prices, the ones we have with our Customs Union partners. If not, [Ukraine] will not pay debts and will get your gas for free,” Gazprom’s head Alexei Miller said Monday at a news conference in Moscow.
The protracted spat appeared to have caused Miller no small amount of irritation, as he spoke slowly and paused for long periods between words at the conference. At one point he rebuffed a journalist who used an English word while posing a question in Russian.
“What language do we speak here?” he asked the journalist.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said at the same news conference that no further negotiations with the Ukrainian side are planned due to “the unconstructive position of the Ukrainian government.”
Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said Monday morning that Russia’s official position on the gas dispute with Ukraine will be defined after Miller and Novak meet with President Vladimir Putin. No such meeting was reported to have taken place at the time of publication.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk reacted sharply to Russia’s decision, saying during a government meeting on Monday that it represented “part of a general plan by Russia to destroy Ukraine.”
“This is another stage of Russia’s aggression against the Ukrainian state and its independence. We will not subsidize Russia’s Gazprom. Ukrainians will not pull $5 billion out of their pockets every year so that Russia can buy arms, tanks and planes and bomb Ukrainian territory,” he said.
Both Ukraine and Russia said Monday that they would file lawsuits against each other over their gas supplies grievances at the Stockholm international commercial arbitration court.
While Gazprom insists that Ukraine’s debt stands at $4.46 billion, the Ukrainian government claims that it will only pay a sum calculated on the basis of a discounted price of $268.5 per 1,000 cubic meters. This price was offered last December to Ukraine’s then-President Viktor Yanukovych after he opted out of an economic and political alliance with the European Union that sparked mass protests in central Kiev.
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