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14 Jan, 2009 07:05

Ukraine actions move into gas dispute spotlight

Gazprom says it now has proof that Ukraine is stealing Russian gas bound for families in Europe. The deputy head of Gazprom told Business RT Ukraine won't pay for its own gas, because it's on “the brink of bankruptcy”.

European observers began checking gas transit stations on Tuesday. That was expected to shame Kiev, to stop stealing Russian gas bound for freezing European homes. But Reiner Hartmann, independent monitor, revealed to Business RT Ukraine is blocking transit, despite Moscow's efforts.

“I can confirm this, that the Russian side is doing their utmost to keep the supply at the maximum, despite the difficult transit situation with Ukraine. We have a crisis of transit.”


Gazprom deputy CEO, Aleksandr Medvedev, says Ukraine's on the verge of national default – so it can't afford to pay for its own blue fuel.

“It's really the tragic development of the event, that the country is on the brink of bankruptcy, and nobody could predict what will happen in the next several days.”

But Russia's energy giant says that doesn't mean it can steal Europe's gas. Gazprom's now suing Ukraine at the International Court of Arbitration in Stockholm.

With their gas stopped, tens of thousands of EU citizens have been left out in the cold. Some burn wood to warm themselves. Romania's suffering record low temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius, and farmer Ion, in Baicoi, is typical of numerous people doing whatever they can to stay warm.

“This is the only way to survive. Wood is cheaper than gas.”

There are signs Europe realizes it needs to crack down on Kiev, not Moscow. On Tuesday evening Romanin President Trayan Besescu became the first EU leader to publicly blame the crisis squarely on Ukraine.