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10 Feb, 2008 14:18

President Yushchenko urges ‘gas princess’ to settle conflict with Gazprom

Ukraine's President Yushchenko is urging the country's Prime Minister, Yulia Timoshenko, who’s dubbed ‘gas princess' in Ukraine, to settle the conflict with Russia over gas supplies as soon as possible. Russia's gas giant Gazprom says it will cut off ener

Ukraine says it's willing to settle the debt, but in return it would like to receive gas directly from Gazprom. 

That would by-pass the Russian-Swiss joint company, RosUkr-Energo, which currently acts as an intermediary.

Executives from Ukraine’s energy firm Naftogaz are to meet with Gazprom in Moscow for further negotiations .

Sergey Mikheev, a political analyst from the Moscow-based Centre of Political Technologies, says there may be unforeseen consequences for Ukraine if the dispute escalates.

“In fact, nobody wants to completely cut off gas supplies to Ukraine and watch it dying of hunger. It’s evident that Russia is responsible for gas transit to Europe. Hence it’s rather complicated to cut off Ukraine, because then we’ll face problems with our European partners. A way out could lie in building alternative by-pass lines in the south and north, but it takes time and effort. The issue is that by this move we're  trying to force Ukraine to find a sound compromise, be sober in its vision,” Mikheev stressed.

He went on to add: “They should understand that it’s silly to pursue a conflict-based policy with its more powerful neighbour. Primarily, this crisis could affect Ukraine itself as it is divided from the inside. If anybody wants to split Ukraine into several parts, it wouldn't take much doing – considering the current economic crisis. Ukrainian politicians are not aware of the game they are playing. They hope their American and European partners will cover them.”