Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Air Algerie investigation continues

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Dozens of youths trampled to death on Conakry beach

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola death toll tops 700

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

UNRWA official breaks down over Gaza deaths

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Renault's women drivers ad deemed sexist

Read more

FOCUS

Constitution prohibits Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

War and Markets, with Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist at Saxo Bank

Read more

  • Kerry, Ban announce 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • French Jews speak of growing fear in Paris amid Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Argentinian markets plummet following default

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • France remembers murdered socialist hero Jean Jaurès

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone declares state of emergency over spread of Ebola

    Read more

  • Investigators reach MH17 site amid 24-hour ceasefire

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Scores feared dead in India landslide

    Read more

  • Russia ordered to pay further €1.9 billion to Yukos shareholders

    Read more

  • Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run?

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • US House votes to sue Obama for over-reaching his powers

    Read more

Business Europe

Gazprom halts gas supply through Ukraine

Video by Louis MASSIE

Latest update : 2009-01-08

Russian giant Gazprom has shut down the gas supply transit to Europe through Ukraine. Moscow warned it would only resume supplies in the presence of EU observers, and if Ukraine agreed to market rates. Europe condemned the cut.

AFP - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday laid down terms for a resumption of Russian gas shipments via Ukraine to Europe as tens of thousands of Europeans suffered heating cuts amid freezing weather.
   
Russian energy giant Gazprom earlier announced a halt to all gas transit to Europe through Ukraine, around one-fifth of the European Union's gas demand, saying it had been forced to do so because Ukraine was blocking transit.
   
Medvedev told Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko that Ukraine must pay market rates for Russian gas, pay its gas debts and allow a new "control mechanism" involving EU observers to verify gas flows through its territory.
   
Speaking to Yushchenko in a phone conversation ahead of EU-brokered talks between Russian and Ukrainian energy officials set to take place in Brussels on Thursday, Medvedev also said that Moscow was ready to negotiate "any time."
   
"The price for the gas needs to be the market rate, corresponding to the European price level ... There must not be any discounts or special rates at all," Medvedev was quoted as saying in a Kremlin press service statement.
   
"For the resumption of gas supplies, there needs to be a control mechanism in place" with the participation of Russian and Ukrainian energy officials, EU observers and international legal firms, Medvedev continued.
   
His comments appeared to summarise terms already laid out by various Russian officials, including Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
   
Russia stopped gas deliveries to Ukraine on January 1 in a dispute that has seen supplies fully cut to at least 11 European states as temperatures in parts of Europe plunged as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius (minus 13 Fahrenheit).
   
There has been sharp condemnation from the United States, where national security advisor Stephen Hadley said Russia would lose global influence if it continued to "threaten its neighbours and manipulate their access to energy."
   
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Putin, said efforts to portray Russia as the guilty party in the dispute were politically-motivated and did "not reflect reality." He accused Ukraine of trying to "blackmail European customers."
   
In France, where gas network operator GRTGaz said Russian gas supplies had nearly stopped later Wednesday, Prime Minister Francois Fillon condemned the situation as "totally unacceptable."
   
"The prime minister believes the current situation represents a challenge to the whole of Europe.... This failure to respect contracts is totally unacceptable," said a statement issued by the premier's office.
   
Efforts to resolve the crisis have gathered pace, with Russian, Ukrainian and European officials set to meet in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the idea of using international monitors to check gas flows from Russia via Ukraine.
   
The heads of Gazprom and Ukraine gas company Naftogaz were set to take part.
   
"Russia will resume its deliveries when the observer groups are in place," Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, told journalists at an EU meeting in Prague.
   
Topolanek promised a "stronger intervention" from the EU if supplies were not restored by Thursday.
   
He also said EU energy ministers would hold an extraordinary meeting on Monday if Russian gas imports through Ukraine are not restored.
   
Despite harsh rhetoric between Moscow and Kiev, both Putin and Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said in separate comments on Wednesday that they supported the idea of sending EU technical observers to Ukraine.
   
Meanwhile, Romania declared a state of emergency and 70,000 households in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo were without heating. Bulgaria turned off heating on public transport in Sofia and temperatures in homes fell sharply.
   
Austria, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia have said that all their supplies of Russian gas had been cut off.
   
France, Germany, Italy and Serbia have also reported drastic falls in Russian gas supplies. Poland and Turkey said supplies from Ukraine had been completely cut but were getting increased amounts through different pipelines.
   
Experts have said however that the impact of the crisis would be mitigated by the fact that European countries consciously stocked up reserves after a similar Russia-Ukraine dispute caused shortfalls in 2006.
   
Russian state television broadcast a meeting between Putin and former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, head of a Baltic gas pipeline project to Germany that Russia is pushing as an alternative to supplies through Ukraine.

Date created : 2009-01-07

COMMENT(S)