Monday, January 02, 2006

Russia says Ukraine stealing gas

On Friday Ukraine’s President Yushchenko had tried to soft talk his Russian counterpart in the gas crisis. He crooned "Our relations [with Vladimir Putin] are friendly. He is a man with whom I have found it easy to maintain dialogue."

Yushchenko counter proposed a price of US$80 per 1,000 cu metres instead of the US$314 the Russian wants up from the subsidised US$68. But on Sunday 01 Jan 2006 Russia cut off the gas. It had enough of a two faced Ukraine.

Then Ukraine did the silly thing instead of pursuing negotiations. – according to the Russians it stole 100 million cu metres of gas meant for other European countries like Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Austria etc. Those countries have reported interruptions and drop of pressure in their supplies. Of course Ukraine denied the theft but grudgingly admitted that it would siphon off a share if temperatures fell below freezing – which is the same as saying they had tapped off the gas.

So Gazprom, Russia’s energy company, has contracted a foreign company SGS to estimate the volume siphoned off by Ukraine. Gazprom’s deputy head said yesterday:

"We have employed an international company that has a clear reputation in qualitative evaluations of foreign trade in order to have independent estimations besides our own documentary proof."

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