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Gas row between Ukraine and Russia worsens

September 23, 2013, 10:12 UTC+3
Last week, Ukraine continued demonstrating its “daily estrangement from Russia”
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It became known on Saturday after a new failed round of gas negotiations that Ukraine had rejected Russia’s no-interest loan to finance the pumping of gas into underground gas storage facilities. Also, Prime Minister of Ukraine Nikolai Azarov did not rule out a partial “freezing” of two branches of the Ukrainian gas pipeline network.

Kiev turned down Russia’s no-interest loan to finance the pumping of gas into underground storage facilities, the Novye Izvestia daily writes. This decision was made after a new failed round of gas talks between Kiev and Moscow ahead of a new heating season. Within the context of an economic stand-off of the two countries that is taking shape ahead of Ukraine’s signing an association agreement with the European Union, this news was not a sensation. Rhetoric of the Ukrainian top officials is getting increasing bellicose.

Last week, Ukraine continued demonstrating its “daily estrangement from Russia”, as Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov put it, the Novye Izvestia writes. The Ukrainian government has rejected Russia’s loan for financing the pumping of gas into underground gas storage facilities. Earlier, Ukraine stated its plans to pump into storages only the 14 billion cubic meters of gas that it needed. Russia’s Gazprom demanded to increase this amount to 19 billion cubic meters in order to ensure uninterrupted transit to European Union countries.

If Moscow does not bring down gas prices, Kiev will reduce the amount of purchased gas, Prime Minister Azarov said one of these days. He also threatened that Ukraine would suspend gas deliveries through two branches of its gas pipeline network if Russia did not increase transit to European Union countries. According to him, the Ukrainian gas pipeline network can pump 150 billion cubic meters of gas, but it currently operates only at 60% of its capacity.

This decision is not critical for Russia, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily quotes leading expert from the Union of Oil and Gas Industrialists Rustam Tankayev as saying. “At the same time, the freezing of pipelines in itself may be dangerous for Ukraine and the European Union,” Tankayev said.

Russia, for its part, has reduced gas deliveries via Ukraine after the launch of the Nord Stream gas pipeline. According to Ukrtransgaz, operator of the Ukrainian gas pipeline network, this year the gas pipeline network has received slightly more than 15 billion cubic meters of gas, which is 29% less than during the same period last year.

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