The leaders of Bulgaria and Slovakia headed to Russia and Ukraine
Wednesday to coax both countries to restart gas shipments to Europe a
day after promises to do so were not honored. The gas crisis that has
left many European countries in the cold.
The two European prime
ministers are holding talks with their Russian and Ukrainian
counterparts Wednesday in hopes that shipments of Russian gas via
Ukraine will be resumed. Both Moscow and Kyiv agreed to resume natural
gas supplies on Tuesday under a European Union brokered agreement. Gas
began flowing - but only for several hours.
President Jose Barroso told the European Parliament Wednesday that it
was "unacceptable and incredible" that gas flow has not resumed and he
said it means Russia and Ukraine can no longer be considered as
reliable supply sources. He called on european companies to take legal
action if gas did not start flowing.
A disappointed Jacek
Saryusz-Wolski, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee for the
European Parliament, told reporters in Brussels that gas shipments
appeared to have stopped - with EU monitors in place at points along
the supply route to confirm this.
"We got information that the
gas no longer flows. The gas has stopped flowing. So we are again at
the beginning and we cannot concentrate on sustainable long-term
solutions - which we will anyway one day have to devise and agree upon
- but left again to this crisis which does not seem to be ending," said
Russian gas bound for Europe stopped flowing
last week, affecting local gas supplies of about 20 European countries.
Balkan nations were among those hardest hit, with thousands of
households without heat. Schools, hospitals and factories have been
forced to close.
Russia and Ukraine have traded accusations on
who is responsible for the gas cutoff, with Russian gas giant Gazprom
accusing Ukraine on Tuesday of blocking the gas. Ukraine in turn blamed
Russia for routing shipments in a way it was unable to pump the gas on
About a quarter of EU gas comes from Russia. The
27-member bloc is looking at ways to diversify its energy supplies -
notably by tapping more into renewable sources - along with changing
routes and sources. But it will take time before it can become less
reliant on Russian gas.