Russia-Ukraine gas row finally resolved

A gas delivery dispute between Russia and Ukraine has been resolved, according to Gazprom’s spokesman. The countries' energy companies Gazprom and Naftogaz are due to make a joint statement.

Earlier Gazprom had accused Ukraine of planning to siphon off gas intended for European customers.

Russia's gas giant recently reduced supplies to Ukraine by around half, claiming the latter had failed to pay a $US 600-million debt. But in his latest statement Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov said all restrictions on Ukraine have been lifted.

“Today the heads of Gazprom and Naftogaz have held telephone talks. They reached agreements to solve the crisis with gas deliveries to Ukraine. Gas delivered from January 1 to March 1, 2008, will be fully documented and paid for by Ukraine after a scheme effective as of the beginning of this year. Transit or Russian gas to Europe through Ukraine is unaffected. Restrictions on gas deliveries to Ukrainian consumers have been lifted,” Kupriyanov stated.

Ukraine’s position

At a media briefing Yulia Timoshenko explained why Ukraine has not been paying for the gas consumed by the country in January and February 2008. 

First she said that the previous government didn’t sign new contracts with Russia. Therefore, Ukraine insisted on paying for this gas the price of $US 179 per thousand cubic metres while Russian Gazprom wanted Ukraine to pay $US 314 per thousand cubic metres.

At the moment the position of the Ukrainian government is to insist on paying $US 179 without any direct contract signed, on the basis of a new legal statement signed by the government today.

Yulia Timoshenko has confirmed that Naftogaz officials are in talks with Gazprom over the phone at the moment and a statement is expected in the next couple of hours.

President Yushchenko has not spoken out on this issue yet, but Timoshenko said that the agreements reached by President Yushchenko and President Putin in Moscow two weeks ago were only in words. It seems that it means that she is taking charge of the gas contracts at the moment. She said that there will be no intermediaries and, together with the President Yushchenko, she will come up with a joint decision.