News / Europe

    Ukrainian PM Leans Toward Gas Union with Russia

    Ukraine Prime Minister Mykola Azarov says he has no objections to a surprise proposal by his Russian counterpart to combine the state-owned gas companies of both countries if they are treated as equals.

    Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told a Kyiv news conference his Russian counterpart's idea to unite Gazprom and Naftogaz deserves attention.

    Prime Minister Vladimir Putin presented the proposal during a news conference Friday in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

    Mr. Putin says the two government leaders discussed integration of their nuclear industries.  He adds that Russia is prepared to do the same in the gas sector and offers to unite Gazprom and Naftogaz.

    With that 12-second statement, the Russian prime minister shut off his microphone and stood to shake Mr. Azarov's hand.  The Ukrainian official says he did not discuss the issue with Mr. Putin before it was made public.  Mr. Azarov adds there is no question about consolidating the two gas companies, if they are treated as equals.  He quotes Mr. Putin as saying Ukraine would gain access to Russian energy resources and assets.

    In Kyiv, independent energy analyst Ivan Poltavets told VOA the proposal remains vague.  But he cautioned it could result in an energy monopoly that may kill Ukraine's modest domestic gas industry.

    Poltavets says if Ukrainian purchases of Russian gas increase, then Ukrainian gas production will either decrease or it will need to be exported, but that will be very difficult because it would be competing with Gazprom supplies.

    Russian National Energy Security Fund Director, Konstantin Simonov, says Russia's plan to build the Nord and South Stream pipelines to Europe around Ukraine applied pressure on Kyiv.  He says Ukrainian leaders did not expect those lines to be built.   But now that Nord Stream construction has begun, Ukraine, according to Simonov, has been forced to deal with Mr. Putin on his terms.  Nord Stream will begin carrying gas in 2011 from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany.  From there, it will be distributed to other western European countries.

    Simonov says no one is prepared to invest in the Ukrainian gas pipeline system, adding the European Union has distanced itself from Ukraine.  The analyst says the E.U. concern is to get fuel, not whether supplies get to its borders over, through or around Ukraine.  He says the issue of gas transit is for Ukraine and Russia to figure out, and claims Ukraine has no allies or alternatives.

    Ukraine's aging pipeline system is in need of repairs and the country's previous leaders firmly resisted Russian attempts to gain control over it.  Konstantin Simonov says such control would spare Moscow the expense of building South Stream under the Black Sea.

    Simonov asks why such an expensive pipeline is needed if Russians can get a guaranteed gas transport corridor, which would be their property and their responsibility.  He says gas wars would become impossible, and if there are supply disruptions, they would be Gazprom's responsibility, because it will own the pipeline.

    Europe gets about 20 percent of its natural gas from Russia through Ukrainian pipelines.  Bitter pricing disputes in recent years between Moscow and Kyiv resulted in mid-winter gas shutoffs to European homes, hospitals, and industry.

    Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has condemned the proposed gas company consolidation as part of a large-scale Russian plan to eliminate Ukrainian independence.  Former President Viktor Yushchenko also considers it a threat to independence that would allow a gas monopoly to dictate terms to Ukrainian consumers.

    Ivan Poltavets says both politicians were considered energy sector reformers in 2000 when Mr. Yushchenko was prime minister and Ms. Tymoshenko served as his deputy.  But the analyst says they allowed energy problems to accumulate when they assumed the country's top positions in 2005.  He says those problems include wasteful use of supplies.

    Poltavets says Ukrainian politicians do not focus on saving resources or at least reducing consumption, but talk instead about the need to get greater and perhaps cheaper supplies of gas.  This, says Poltavets, is the wrong political emphasis.

    Analysts say higher energy prices would force efficiency, but populist politicians refuse to raise them for fear of losing elections.

    Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych recently secured a 30-percent reduction in the price of Russian gas imports for 10 years in exchange for an extension of the lease allowing Russia's Black Sea Fleet to remain in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol through 2042.  The Ukrainian parliament ratified the agreement without debate, which sparked an egg-throwing brawl last week by lawmakers opposed to the deal.  

    Critics argue the agreement violates a constitutional ban of foreign military bases on Ukrainian territory, and also represents a bad energy deal for Ukraine.

    Gazprom chairman Alexei Miller says Russia and Ukraine will discuss gas consolidation in Moscow after World War Two Victory Day celebrations on May 9.  There are no details about what either side plans to negotiate.

    You May Like

    Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.