Sponsored by: Investment Center

Something new in your business?  Click here to submit your business press release

Chamber Corner | Main Street News | Job Hunt | Classifieds | Calendar | Illinois Lottery 

Ukraine rejects Russia's latest gas request

Send a link to a friend

[January 15, 2009]  KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine rejected Russia's latest request to pipe natural gas westward to increasingly frustrated EU consumers on Thursday, deepening the bitter economic and political dispute that has paralyzed energy shipments to Europe.

Desperate to restore supplies, the European Union said it was ready to join a weekend meeting between Russia and Ukraine to seek a solution to the crisis that has left eastern Europe frantically scrambling for heat, light and power.

With the cutoff of Russian gas supplies via Ukraine in its ninth day, there was little sign of an end to the delivery drought despite the EU's vocal objections. After visiting Kiev and Moscow to press his case Wednesday, the prime minister of gas-starved Slovakia said he had little hope that deliveries would be restored any time soon.

"That's practically impossible," Robert Fico told reporters in Bratislava.

Europe depends on Russia for about a quarter of its gas, with 80 percent of it delivered via Ukrainian pipelines. Russia stopped selling gas to Ukraine on Jan. 1 because of a price dispute, then accused Ukraine of stealing Europe-bound gas and tuned off the taps entirely on Jan. 7.

A hard-won deal to deploy EU monitors at key gas junctions raised hopes for a renewal of supplies on Tuesday, but they were quickly dashed amid mutual recriminations between Russia and Ukraine. Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been badly strained since the 2004 Orange Revolution propelled pro-Western leaders to power in Kiev.

Russia's state-controlled gas giant Gazprom opened a tap near the border Tuesday and asked Ukraine to send a limited amount of gas on to Europe. Ukraine's Naftogaz refused, saying the route Gazprom demanded would force Ukraine to shut off energy supplies to millions of Ukrainian consumers first. Ukraine also said Russia must supply "technical gas" to prime the pumps.

The same thing happened Wednesday and again Thursday, officials on both sides said.

"Technically we cannot deliver gas to that destination," Naftogaz spokesman Valentyn Zemlyansky said Thursday. He confirmed that Gazprom had requested Ukraine send just under 100 million cubic meters of gas across its territory to Europe.

Russia insists Ukraine can send the gas by the requested route.

EU officials have warned Ukraine's leaders -- who want their country to join the EU and NATO -- that the crisis is raising questions about its reliability as a partner. But they have also criticized Russia, asking why it wasn't sending the normal daily volume of gas to Europe, about 300 million cubic meters.

After a late-night telephone conversation, spokespeople for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko said the two agreed to meet in Moscow Saturday for talks on the crisis.

EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and Czech Energy Minister Martin Riman -- whose country currently holds the EU presidency -- plan to join the talks, the EU said.

[to top of second column]


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had called Wednesday for the leaders of European gas-consuming nations to come to Moscow on Saturday for a summit. But Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it was unclear whether Putin's talks with Tymoshenko would be part of that potential meeting.

EU spokesman Johannes Laitenberger said a high-level meeting between the two nations was long overdue, but the talks Saturday should not be an excuse to further delay restarting the gas flow.

"All of this has gone on too long," he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would call Ukraine on Thursday and press Putin when she meets him Friday in Berlin for a quick solution.

"It is absolutely essential for us to see both Russia and Ukraine sit down at the negotiating table and resolve their issues," she said.

The crisis has left several European nations with little or no gas for heating and electricity.

Despite the planned talks, neither side showed signs of backing down -- or any concern about leaving parts of Europe freezing. Tymoshenko said Ukraine has enough gas reserves to last a year -- far more than previously reported.

"This gives us the opportunity to hold negotiations in a completely calm way," she said.

Putin said the transit of gas to Europe was Ukraine's problem and Ukraine must solve it.

[Associated Press; By YURAS KARMANAU]

Associated Press Writers Maria Danilova in Kiev, Ukraine and Steve Gutterman in Moscow contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




< Recent articles

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor