Voices from Russia

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Russia and the EU Sign a Gas Transit Control Protocol


Russia and the EU signed a protocol to set up an international commission to control the transit of Russian natural gas through the Ukraine. The document was signed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, CEO Aleksei Miller of the energy giant Gazprom, as well as Martin Riman, the industry and trade minister of the Czech Republic, which is holding the rotating presidency in the EU.

Russia was forced to halt transit deliveries via the Ukraine on Wednesday after a check established that the Ukraine was not transporting any gas to Europe. Moscow said supplies would resume when a multilateral commission was formed to monitor transit via the Ukraine. “We will do this [resume transit supplies] immediately after international monitors take charge of entry and exit points on the border between the Ukraine and Russia, as well as on the Ukraine’s borders with other European countries”, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said following talks with his Czech counterpart Mirek Topolánek. “Monitors should also be sent to European countries bordering on the Ukraine”.

Under an agreement reached between Russia and the EU on Saturday, Gazprom, the Ukrainian company Naftogaz, the Russian and Ukrainian energy ministries, the European Commission, European consumer companies, and international monitoring organisations will be represented in the international commission being set up to monitor trans-Ukrainian gas deliveries, Mr Putin said. He said he could see no obstacles to the Ukraine’s signing the protocol now that it has been signed by Russia and the EU. “I assume the document should now be signed in Kiev and I see no grounds for not doing so”, Mr Putin said during a news conference. According to the Ukrainian media, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek could meet with the Ukrainian leadership on Saturday evening. Mr Putin warned that Russia would not put up with gas theft in future. “If we notice that gas is being stolen again on Ukrainian territory and part of deliveries vanish, we will reduce supplies by this volume”, he said.

On Wednesday, Kiev closed the fourth and final gas pipeline pumping Russian gas to Europe. The latest closure added Austria, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Slovakia to the growing list of countries receiving no Russian gas. The three other pipelines were closed on Tuesday, ending deliveries via Ukraine to Hungary, Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, and Bosnia. Supplies to Italy, Poland, France, and Slovenia were seriously disrupted. Gazprom accused the Ukraine, which accounts for some 80 percent of Russian gas exports, of stealing more than 86 million cubic meters of gas since the start of the year, but, Kiev denied the accusations, saying that Russia was trying to discredit the Ukraine as a reliable gas transit partner. Mr Putin said that a “clan war” over financial sources inside the Ukraine, particularly ahead of elections at different levels, was what had brought about the transit crisis. “Although this has been an economic dispute, we have been hostage to political problems inside the Ukraine”, Mr Putin said when asked whether the transit crisis was due to political differences between Russia and the Ukraine.

Gas supplies from Russia to European consumers through the Ukraine started falling in the first days of 2009, after Russia and the Ukraine failed to agree on how to settle Kiev’s gas debts or on a contract for 2009 deliveries in their last-ditch talks on New Year’s Eve, which made Moscow cut off gas to the Ukraine. Moscow insists that Kiev pay the market price for natural gas. “If the price for gas Gazprom supplies to Eastern European states bordering the Ukraine is around 470 dollars (13,699 roubles. 349 euros. 309 UK pounds) per 1,000 cubic metres in the first quarter of 2009, then, the Ukraine should also pay the market price for gas”, Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told journalists on Friday. Gazprom earlier offered Ukraine a price of 250 dollars (7,286 roubles. 185 euros. 164 UK pounds) per 1,000 cubic metres for gas in 2009, about half the current average price in Europe. Mr Putin said the price was tantamount to “humanitarian aid”. The Ukraine, which paid 179.50 dollars (5,232 roubles. 133 euros. 118 UK pounds) per 1,000 cubic metres last year, said it was prepared to pay 200 to 235 dollars (5,829 to 6,849 roubles. 148 to 174 euros. 131 to 154 UK pounds) per 1,000 cubic metres. After their refusal, Gazprom said the price could be 418 dollars (12,183 roubles. 310 euros. 275 UK pounds) per 1,000 cubic metres.

10 January 2009



Editor’s Note:

To hear that the Orangies turned down an offer from Gazprom that was only 53 percent of the going market rate! They are not only thieves, they are STUPID thieves. Why has Russia been giving this squirrelly lot such knockdown rates in the first place? They haven’t been giving a proper quid pro quo for the favour, that’s for certain! I believe that the USA has been blackmailing Russia (Russia is not bullying its neighbours if they are receiving a discount, that’s for sure) since 1991. Well… the US economy is in freefall… the US budget deficit next year is estimated at 1.2 trillion dollars at the least… the US forces are war-weary and troop morale is in the toilet… In short, Russia sees that the USA cannot threaten them in any realistic manner. Ergo, Russia can demand market prices from this ungrateful lot and get it. It’s only fair.

The Orangies had best step lightly. They are now exposed as a corrupt and self-centred cabal that gouges their own people and sells off the arms of their forces without any of the funds realised going into the state treasury, so, they’d best mend their ways. I feel sad for the peoples of the Ukraine; they are being rooked by their so-called “leadership”. I also feel sorry for the Galician diaspora; their patriotic feelings are being used and abused by unscrupulous operators. No one, not even one’s opponents, should be treated in such a fashion.

Yushchenko delenda est.


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