Last Friday, Ukraine's Naftogaz stopped to purchase natural gas from Russia's Gazprom, delivering on its promise to terminate cooperation in case the Russian monopoly refused to reschedule the Ukrainian debt for August.
Meanwhile, mass media are continuing to make comments on prospects for Russian-Ukrainian relations in the light of Kiev's plans to sign an association agreement with the European Union.
"Naftogaz Ukrainy" fully stopped to purchase gas from Gazprom on Friday, as it can no longer pay for supplies," the RBC Daily newspaper underscores. Ukraine hopes that this demarche will enable it to get concessions in talks with Gazprom, and at the same time, it is sending a sign to the European Union expecting its assistance in the talks with Moscow. However, experts are confident that there will be no "gas war" and that the parties will come to terms within the next few weeks.
Economic reasons behind this decision are aggravated by political ones: the refusal to purchase Russian gas is a consequence of tension in bilateral relations due to Ukraine's plans to sign an association agreement with the EU at the summit in Vilnius on November 26. "Supposedly, Ukraine's demarche is sending a sign to the European Union that it hopes for loans to purchase gas and assistance in negotiations with Moscow," the newspaper quoted Sberbank CIB analysts Valery Nesterov as saying.
In the opinion of Mikhail Korchemkin, director general and owner of East European Gas Analysis (USA), cited by the newspaper Izvestia, Gazprom will not go for worsening relations with Ukraine ahead of increase in the winter demand for natural gas in Europe.
The parties will not start litigation over contract terms, but are likely to continue talks. He doubts that Russia will transfer to prepayment for gas for Ukraine, because both countries are aware that the fuel price is overstated.
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper writes about the latest meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents, which it believes was the most confidential and intriguing in the whole history of bilateral relations. Newspaper sources in the two capitals specified that the heads of states had briefly talked on Saturday evening at a military airfield in the Moscow region. A lack of information in the course of two days in Moscow and Kiev generated various rumors in Ukraine's political circles.
It is possible that Yanukovich's visit to Russia was a signal to the EU that Kiev could still refuse European integration if the Europeans did not withdraw from the agenda their demand that former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko be released from prison, the newspaper underlines.
On Monday, head of the Batkivshchina opposition party headquarters Alexander Turchinov reiterated that the Party of Regions was playing for time, with no intention to send Timoshenko for treatment abroad.
The Vedomosti newspaper published an article by Dean of the School of World Economics and World Politics at the National Research University-Higher School of Economics Sergei Karaganov with his comments on Ukraine's relations with the European Union and Russia.
The political scientist believes that the EU is not counting on expanding its market by adding Ukraine. It is not large as the country's population is poor. Nobody intends to invest in Ukraine. The already invested capital is being repatriated. Europe has a purely political and psychological interest, Karaganov says.
Poland plays the key role in the current attempt to sign the association agreement, wishing to firm its aspirations to the role of an equal among the EU’s leading states. Interestingly, Washington seems to be standing aloof from many events. The reason is that Americans have enough problems of their own. Also, there is a loss of interest in “vague” European affairs, with the world center shifting towards the Pacific Ocean, and the perfectly obvious disappointment caused by the previous attempts to win Ukraine over to its side, according to Karaganov.
In his opinion, the Ukrainian elites’ interests are quite understandable. “They have proven - so far- their inability to put the country on the track of constructive and independent development.”
They choose ”pro-Russian orientation” if there are hopes to siphon off petrodollars as before, or get Russian subsidies and/or loans as in the recent years. The current bout of “pro-European orientation,” is strengthened by the desire to receive a new loan — which Ukraine will clearly not pay back — from IMF and other international banks, in the hope to delay the default as it looms over Ukraine.”