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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More