Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Ukraine refuses to pay its gas bill - again

Russia Profile highlights the seasonal ‘pantomime’ which takes place every year when Russia suggests that Ukraine should pay for its gas. Gazprom is threatening to put up its prices to supply Ukraine with gas to ‘European market levels’ if the cash strapped state does not pay up. Meanwhile the Ukrainians demand a stay of execution and negotiations.

An EU expert on energy supplies, Pierre Noel, observes,

“Every year in December the Russians say to Ukrainians, ‘OK, you have to pay for the gas you consume,’ and the Ukrainians say ‘well, let’s negotiate’.” If the Russians get angry enough they can close off the pipe, as they did in 2006. The Ukrainians will then steal gas intended for Gazprom’s major customers in Europe. So they come to some kind of settlement and then next winter it starts all over again.”

Although analysts disagree as to the extent of the problem, there is largely consensus that fault is on the Ukrainian, rather than the Russian side. Ukraine is insistent on using the lever of safe transit of energy supplies in order to extract cheap gas from Russia (contrary to prior agreements). It threatens to steal when Gazprom insists that it must pay fair prices. This is widely known, but rarely mentioned when the favoured narrative of Russian bully, tyrannically menacing its ‘near abroad’ is invoked.

1 comment:

dub said...

100 percent agreed. the bias in reporting about Russia is astonishing.