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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora