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27 Aug, 2014 16:03

Moscow dismisses Ukraine’s 'disinformation' on Russian gas transit halt

Moscow dismisses Ukraine’s 'disinformation' on Russian gas transit halt

​The Ukrainian PM’s statement that Russia plans to cut off gas transit to the Ukraine and Europe is “groundless” and an attempt to mislead EU gas customers, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said.

Russia has denied Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk’s claim that it plans to cut off gas to Ukraine and Europe this winter.

"We can only qualify the comments as a groundless attempt to try to deliberately mislead or misinform European customers that buy Russian gas," Novak told journalists on Wednesday.

Yatsenyuk made the announcement at a government meeting in Kiev earlier in the day.

"The situation in (Ukraine's) energy sector is difficult. We know of Russia's plans to block (gas) transit even to European Union countries this winter," Yatsenyuk said, as quoted by Reuters. The prime minister did not specify where he received the information.

On June 16, Gazprom, Russia’s national gas company switched Ukraine to a prepayment system citing chronic late payments, with debts now more than $5 billion.

Russia turned off gas to Ukraine in 2006 and 2009 over unpaid bills and pricing disputes.

Ukraine imports nearly 50 percent of its gas from Russia, which in 2013 amounted to 27.7 billion cubic meters. If Ukraine cuts off Russian gas transit, it would hit Europe, which sources 15 percent of its energy from Russia.

Gazprom opened the 55 billion cubic meter capacity Nord Stream pipeline to deliver gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine.
Novak said Russia plans to uphold all its gas contracts and commitments with EU clients, regardless of the political situation in Ukraine. The energy minister also said Moscow plans to continue negotiations with Kiev and Brussels.