Russia threatens to cut gas flow to Kiev
Russia’s gas giant Gazprom has threatened to halt its natural gas flow to Ukraine with a full shutdown within two days, if Kiev fails to pay for deliveries.
Alexei Miller, the state-owned energy giant’s chief executive officer, said Tuesday that Kiev has still not paid in advance for March deliveries and with no new payment, Russia would be forced to stop supplies to Ukraine.
“Ukraine has not made its gas prepayment on time. As of today, there is only 219 million cubic meters of gas paid for. It takes about two days for [Ukraine’s] Naftogaz to transfer funds to [Russia’s] Gazprom,” said Miller.
The Gazprom chief also warned that a full shutdown in deliveries to Ukraine would create serious risks for transit gas to Europe. Russia provides about half of Ukraine’s and 30 percent Europe’s total gas demands with key transit pipelines on the Ukrainian territory.
Miller added that Ukraine’s request for 114 million cubic meters of gas to be delivered in the next two days would bring fuel deliveries to a full stop, if Gazprom does not receive a payment.
This is while Ukrainian state energy company Naftogaz accused Gazprom earlier this week of failing to deliver prepaid gas supplies, saying it has only supplied 47 million cubic meters of the requested 114.
The accusation came after Gazprom announced on February 19 that it had begun to supply gas directly to areas in Ukraine’s restive eastern regions controlled by pro-Russian forces.
The decision was made after Naftogaz cut off gas deliveries to the restive east, claiming that interruption was made due to pipeline damage caused by the ongoing fighting between Kiev troops and pro-Russian forces.
The two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk have witnessed deadly clashes since Kiev launched military operations in April last year to crush pro-Russia forces there.
In May 2014, the situation in the two flashpoint regions started to worsen as residents overwhelmingly voted for independence from Ukraine in referendums.
Over 5,700 people have been killed so far and some 14,000 others wounded in the conflict, the United Nations says. Around 1.5 million others have also been forced from their homes over the past months of turmoil.