Gas row blamed on Kiev power tiff

The gas dispute between Moscow and Kiev has again threatened energy supplies to Europe. Some analysts say the cause of the row is a power struggle at the heart of Ukraine's government.

Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko could not agree between themselves who would manage the energy sector.

Frustrated by conflicting reports and actions, Russia got tired of waiting and has cut off a quarter of its regular supplies.

Some analysts say that Ukraine’s power wars are to blame.

“I don’t think that Putin and Russia would dare to interfere in Ukrainian politics by means of a disruption in gas supplies without the help of Yushchenko. I think it’s our President who needs it more than anyone else,” Oleg Voloshin, political analyst from Expert magazine says.

The split between the ‘gas princess’ - as Timoshenko’s known at home - and the President is old news in Ukraine.

They started off as friends and heroes of the Orange Revolution, but couldn’t keep the marriage going for longer than a year. Viktor Yushchenko fired the government of Yulia Timoshenko in 2005 for alleged corruption and economic failures.

Against all odds, they now share power again. But according to analysts, their union is set to fail.

“The Ukrainian political forces have created a model which is not viable in real life. It turns out that there isn’t anyone in Ukraine who makes final decisions. So the country is virtually ungoverned, which is very dangerous,” Vladimir Zharikhin from the Institute for CIS Studies says.

President Yushchenko headed to Moscow in advance of the Prime Minister. He struck a deal with President Putin to keep the gas flowing. But Timoshenko, a week later, tried to revise the agreement.

“Under great pressure, even blackmail, our government was forced to pay off debts accumulated through the corrupt schemes of the previous government. But I promise that starting from March, we’ll adopt a new, transparent scheme without any black middlemen involved,” Timoshenko said.

But the debts weren’t fully met and the parties failed to find a new working agreement.

Ukraine's President and Prime Minister are at each other’s throats yet again. On top of it, the parliament’s been paralysed for nearly a month by the opposition creating more rumours that this government will not last long.

As Russia elects its president, Ukraine’s struggling to establish who's in charge of its state. The gas dispute is heating up the rivalry between the President and the Prime Minister, setting both on their separate election paths for next year.