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Energy Prices are Big Part of Ukraine Crisis

Energy Prices are Big Part of Ukraine Crisisi
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Al Pessin
May 22, 2014 7:31 PM
Russia's decision to intervene in Ukraine has caused a diplomatic and military crisis. But it has also sparked an economic and energy crisis, as Russia sharply increased the price of natural gas it exports to the country and Ukraine's interim leaders have been scrambling to find new and cheaper sources. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Energy Prices are Big Part of Ukraine Crisis
Al Pessin
Russia's decision to intervene in Ukraine has caused a diplomatic and military crisis. But it has also sparked an economic and energy crisis, as Russia sharply increased the price of natural gas it exports to the country and Ukraine's interim leaders have been scrambling to find new and cheaper sources.
 
Ukraine runs on natural gas, and its energy-inefficient homes and factories use a lot of it.
 
The gas comes from Russia, until recently at a bargain price.
 
But that changed when Ukrainians ousted their pro-Russian president in February. Russia raised the price by 40 percent.
 
Ukraine's new leaders have a dilemma, says energy market expert Pierre Noel of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"They now face the very difficult choice, perhaps the impossible choice, of having to choose between cheap gas and political submission to Russia, or expensive gas as the price to pay for their political independence," he said.
 
But Noel says Ukraine had been extracting a steep discount from Russia for decades because it is home to the only gas pipeline to Russia's huge market in Western Europe, and that was going to end anyway.
 
Russia and its customers have been working for years to build two new pipelines that will soon bypass Ukraine, eliminating the country's leverage and putting Russia in a position to charge Ukraine a premium.

That is bad news for consumers and business owners, like Kyiv restaurateur Yuri Gelfat.

"The price of gas will impact all of us," he said. "It affects heating, hot water. Higher utility payments will mean we have to increase our prices."
 
That may be one of the costs of energy independence.
 
At his nearby clothing store, Ruslan Pavlyuk takes a broader view, calling for increased efficiency and conservation, plus one other thing.

"Ukrainians have to stop crying, tighten our belts and understand that we have more fighting to do for our future," he said.
 
Much of the belt tightening will fall on energy-wasteful Ukrainian factories and their workers, largely in the east of the country, where pro-Russian sentiment is the strongest.
 
Pierre Noel says that will make it difficult for Ukraine to forge a national consensus to make the kind of painful reforms that central European countries have made.

"Ukraine is fundamentally split along political and economic lines between a part of the country that may be able and willing to go through that, and a part of the country that simply has no interest, no willingness, and simply will not do it," Noel said.

Noel says a political deal that enables the east to remain economically tied to Russia could ease the problem, and give Russia the foothold in Ukraine it appears to want, without further compromising Ukraine's sovereignty.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
May 22, 2014 6:22 PM
Europe plans to get the cheap oil and gas from Libya, (a country of only 6.2 million), and if the US, EU, and NATO supported puppet general Haftar seizes the Libyan government like planned, (and makes himself President), Europe won't need oil and gas from any other country, will it?

In Response

by: tony from: china
May 22, 2014 11:43 PM
Russia just signed a contract withe china to supply the natural gas for about 30 years.Total price is about 400 billion usd dollars.
Russia don't care any more if ukraine will use or not the natural gas or allowed the gas to euro passed through ukraine.

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