News / Europe

Ukraine Tells Russia Not to Use Natural Gas as 'Weapon'

Ukraine has only half of the gas in storage it needs to avoid problems in winter, Gazprom Deputy Chief Executive Vitaly Markelov said Tuesday. A man walks near the main office of Gazprom in Moscow on May 13, 2014.
Ukraine has only half of the gas in storage it needs to avoid problems in winter, Gazprom Deputy Chief Executive Vitaly Markelov said Tuesday. A man walks near the main office of Gazprom in Moscow on May 13, 2014.
VOA NewsReuters
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk urged Russia on Tuesday not to use natural gas as a "weapon" against his country, and accused Moscow of seizing tens
of billions of dollars' worth of its assets and energy resources
in Crimea.

Russian energy giant Gazprom earlier demanded a $1.66 billion pre-payment from Kiev for June gas deliveries, saying Ukraine had only half its requirements in storage to ensure a trouble-free winter.

"We are ready for a market-based approach and Russia is to stop using natural gas as another, or a new type of Russian weapon," Yatsenyuk told a news conference with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels.

Ukraine wants to change the conditions of a 2009 contract that locked Kyiv into buying a set volume of gas, whether it needs it or not, at $485 per 1,000 cubic meters - the highest price paid by any client in Europe.

Moscow dropped the price to $268.5 after then-President Viktor Yanukovych turned his back on a trade and association agreement with the European Union last year, but reinstated the original price after he was ousted in February.

Ukraine pushes back

Kyiv has so far refused to pay the higher price, saying gas is being used as a political tool by Moscow to punish Ukraine's new leaders for moving closer to the EU.

Yatsenyuk said Ukraine was ready to pay its arrears for Russian gas within 10 days if state-controlled Gazprom agreed to sell it at $268 per 1,000 cubic meters.

But he repeated a threat to take Gazprom to an arbitration court in Stockholm if the two sides failed to agree on a price by May 28, and said he was making a "final call" to Russia to sit down and negotiate a solution to the gas dispute.

Yatsenyuk accused Russia of seizing Ukrainian property worth tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars, including Crimean gas company Chernomorneftegaz, when it annexed the region in March.

"They have stolen more than 2 billion cubic meters of Ukrainian natural gas. They've stolen our fields, they have stolen our companies, they have stolen our onshore and offshore drills. We will see Russia in court too," he said.

US, EU Sanctions

The United States and its European allies, in condemning Russian intervention in Ukraine, have imposed visa bans and asset freezes on a long list of Russian corporate leaders and advisers close to President Vladmir Putin.

Now, Moscow says it will bar the use of Russian-made rocket engines on U.S. military satellite launches. The U.S. has a two-year supply of the engines, but the ban could eventually force it to turn to other, more costly launch vehicles.

Russia also said it has rejected a bid by the U.S. to extend use of the 15-nation International Space Station beyond the previous target of 2020 to 2024.

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Comment Sorting
by: Maxwell from: USA
May 15, 2014 9:41 AM
Russia provided aid to Ukraine when the EU and US would not, Russia had reduced gas rates and provided subsidies and financial aid of about $15 Billion to Ukraine. But the West did nothing more then support the protestors that demanded a Ukraine sever ties with Russia and partner with the West, even when the West would not provide them aid. So Russia wants their investment returned, and no more subsidies and discounted gas for Ukraine, they chose the side they wanted to partner with, now the West can pony-up and help Ukraine pay their bills.

by: brian wilson from: america
May 14, 2014 11:23 AM
Where I come from, if you don't pay your gas bill, the gas is shut off. Let America pay for Ukraine's gas. We have plenty of printing presses. The US appointed violent leaders of Ukraine in Kiev spit in Russia's face, then want free gas. Typical American logic.
In Response

by: Ron M from: Odessa, Ukraine
May 15, 2014 11:10 AM
Did you read the article? Putin just stole billions, if not trillions of dollars with of resourced from Ukraine and all you can say is "you gotta pay your bills?"
In Response

by: Maxwell from: USA
May 15, 2014 9:55 AM
The EU and US had ignored Ukraine's request for aid back in November 2013, but Russia stepped-up and provided reduced rates on gas and financial support, not the West. So when protestors in Kiev were upset that Ukraine was partnering with Russia and not the West, they took to the streets and voiced their opinions that they wanted the West as a partner. Western leaders, including Obama, publicly supported these protestors and took to social media to encourage them, the crowds grew larger, louder and more violent.

Now the West can support Ukraine and bail them out every year like they do Greece, but Ukraine still has to pay back loans and subsidies they received from Russia that Russia was assisting their Government with, while the West was assisting the protestors with the media attention. The West also influenced Ukraine's decision on selecting a leader by talking-up an 'aid package' before them, one-billion from the US and thirteen-billion from the EU, but once again, talk of financial aid from the West has gone silent.
In Response

by: Sean Costello from: U.S.
May 15, 2014 12:18 AM
from America lol nice try.. The US had nothing to do with the people that took control of Ukraine after they ousted their corrupt, embezzling president. This is just propaganda.. just because you believe what they put in your newspaper doesn't make it true. Ukraine can't pay up on the gas because of the billions Yanukovitch stole while he was in office, and if him and Putin didn't have the whole thing planned far in advance I would be truly shocked.

by: ALEX from: USA
May 14, 2014 11:19 AM
USA TODAY, ABC News‎, Wall Street Journal:
Hunter Biden, the younger son of Vice President Joe Biden, will be joining Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, the company announced in a statement........
So that what this is all about????

by: gen from: Japan
May 14, 2014 9:01 AM
Gas price is $485 per 1000 cubic meters? Is it expensive?
My living country gas company billed us $33 per 20 cubic meters.
it calucurates $1,650 per 1000 cubic meters. OMG.
I don't want to pay the gas bill.
If russian gas is weapon,the company 's gas which I pay for would be a mass destruction weapon.

by: Michael from: USA
May 13, 2014 10:56 PM
So how come sleazeball USA can use finance as a weapon. To support their nazi pals.

by: Dell Stator from: US
May 13, 2014 10:26 AM
The Ukraine, if it's serious about freedom, has to while training up a fair and impartial police force, justice system and army, needs to cut it's need for gas, Russia supplies 25% of their total energy needs. Alot, but it can be replaced, first off with conservation - insulation and lowering thermostats, 10 degrees F in winter if need be, Mom in the deep north does it to help me pay her oil bills, allies could immediately ship in construction materials and managers to hire local crews (to solve high UE too) to insulate roofs in as much of West Ukraine buildings as possible.

Tens of thousands could be done by winter. It makes a HUGE difference. Dam up streams or sluice water off to micro hydro gens, which locals could knock together from little more than auto and HVAC parts, they'd need converters to get it to line voltage, but the solar energy business has hundreds of thousands of those ready to ship and Fedex is there to do it.

The Ukraine needs admin help more than anything to get them moving on the path to freedom. These are all non military aid that would to some extent feed purchases from allies, insulation, power converters, etc. and feed local economies with dollars from the bottom, the best way.
In Response

by: Ron M from: Odesa, Ukraine
May 15, 2014 11:19 AM
The problem is that most people here in Ukraine live in apartment blocks with radiator heating that has no thermostats and walls are solid concrete with no insulation. The only way to reduce the temperature in your aparyment is the open window.

This is the result of the Kremlin's central planning. Now Ukraine is paying for Moscow's imposed inefficiencies.

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