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14 Jan, 2009 06:19

Ukraine refuses to transport Russian gas to Europe

Gazprom says the international observers confirmed that Kiev has made it impossible for Russia to export gas to its European consumers.

According to Russia’s energy giant, this contradicts all the agreements reached by both the two countries and the EU.

Gazprom Deputy CEO Aleksandr Medvedev said that under these conditions there is no physical ability for the company to transport gas to Europe via Ukraine, and the responsibility for that is ‘totally with the Ukrainian side’. 

He added that the European Commission representatives have defined the situation as force majeure. “The Ukrainian side has cynically informed us that their gas transporting system has been redirected to inner consuming. In this case any gas pumped into their system will not reach European customers,” Aleksandr Medvedev said.

A representative of the international monitoring commission said the pressure in the pipelines has risen up to 75 atmospheres, but at the entrance to the Ukrainian pipelines it is 0 atmospheres, which means pipes from their side are closed.

At 10 AM Moscow time (8 AM CET) Gazprom gave the order to resume gas transit through the Sudzha station in Russia’s Kursk region which borders Ukraine. Gas totaling 76.6 million cubic metres a day will flow through Ukraine’s territory to supply the Balkan states, Turkey and Moldova with fuel (see Europe's dependence on Russian gas).

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko made a statement on Tuesday denying that Kiev had stolen Russian gas or was blocking its transit to Europe, despite the recent failure by Russia to make a test delivery through Ukraine.

“Ukraine has been and will be a reliable transit country, and it has not taken a single step to block Russian gas deliveries to the European Union,” Yushchenko said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Party of Regions is demanding the start of impeachment procedures of Ukraine’s President Yushchenko and that Yulia Timoshenko’s Cabinet resigns immediately.

The leader of the Party of Regions Viktor Yanukovich will propose the motion at the Ukraine parliament’s plenary session on Thursday.

“It’s impossible to hear the truth nowadays. We have been given promises, sweet words, but now the authorities are afraid to look the people in the eyes. We need to create a special commission in parliament, which would investigate our government’s criminal actions during the gas dispute,” he said.

No gas since January 7

On January 7 2009, Ukraine shut all four pipelines which send gas to Europe, causing several countries to run out of fuel. Before that Ukraine was stealing the Russian gas bound for European consumers, according to Gazprom and the results of an independent monitoring by a national resource analysts’ group from Switzerland. After that Russia made a decision to stop gas supplies via Ukraine to avoid the illegal siphoning.

Ukraine also insists Russia should supply ‘process gas’ (maintenance gas needed to keep product flowing through the pipes) before it can guarantee the uninterrupted transit of supplies to Europe. However, Gazprom dismisses the idea, saying Ukraine has to pay for process gas or buy it elsewhere according to the contract between the Russian and the Ukrainian gas companies.