No payment no gas, Russia tells Ukraine
Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom has announced that the company will fully cut off the natural gas flow to neighboring Ukraine by the end of the week if Kiev fails to quickly remit payments for supplies.
“If no new funds are received from Kiev, then naturally we cannot continue delivering gas to Ukraine,” Sergei Kupriyanov, a spokesman for Gazprom, said in an exclusive interview with Russian-language Rossiya 24 news channel on Thursday.
“We continue active correspondence with Naftogaz (Ukraine’s gas company), which yesterday confirmed the remaining amount of paid-for gas in its letter – 206 million cubic meters as of yesterday,” Kupriyanov stated.
Last week, Ukrainian authorities decided to switch off gas supplies to conflict-stricken eastern Ukraine, claiming the move was due to pipeline damage caused by fighting in the area.
Russia started its own natural gas deliveries to the eastern regions of Ukraine after authorities in the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic in the east asked Moscow to provide them with the vital energy source in the current freezing temperatures. Moscow had initially said that Kiev would have to pay for the supplies directly delivered to the eastern areas, which are controlled by pro-Russia forces.
The Ukrainian government argued that it could not manage the gas distribution in the areas outside its control and pay for it as well.
In his Thursday remarks, Kupriyanov said, however, that Gazprom is now ready to exempt the direct Russian gas supplies to eastern Ukraine – known as Donbass – from its contract with Kiev.
“At the moment we are ready to take gas supply to Donbass out of the discussion. We are ready to deliver the volume required by Naftogaz at the specific entry points,” he said.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin strongly denounced Kiev’s decision to cut off energy supplies to the violence-plagued areas in eastern Ukraine, saying the move clearly “smacks of genocide.”
“Apparently, some responsible leaders of the modern-day Ukraine are unable to understand the importance of humanitarian issues. It seems that the very notion of humanism has been forgotten,” the Russian president said.
The European Commission’s vice-president for energy union, Maros Sefcovic, has sent letters to both Russian and Ukrainian energy ministers, inviting them to the Belgian capital city of Brussels to discuss resolving the gas supply dispute.
The talks are aimed to “hear both sides’ views, to try to mediate” and get back on track a previous deal brokered by the European Union late last year, European Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said.