KIEV, September 13. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine is “at war” and it is “difficult to ensure real changes” in the country until peace is achieved there, Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said Saturday at an annual meeting of the Yalta European Strategy.
Yatsenyuk said when the war is over “there will be a chance to attract international investors, restore trust of local investors and clearly focus on reforms.”
He called the conflict in Ukraine’s east the key challenge for the country.
The second challenge, Yatsenyuk said, is the energy industry. The premier recalled that Ukraine still has difficulties accumulating sufficient amounts of gas for the fall-winter season.
“Our storage facilities have up to 17 billion cubic meters, this is not enough to live through the winter but sufficient not to become cold,” the head of government said.
He noted problems with coal supplies to Ukrainian power plants. Kiev is forced to import it from other countries, including South Africa.
Clashes between troops loyal to Kiev and local militias in the southeast Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR), have killed hundreds of civilians, brought destruction and forced hundreds of thousands to flee the area.
The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire during talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Minsk on September 5. The long hoped-for ceasefire took effect the same day, but the West keeps imposing sanctions on Russia and claiming Moscow is involved in hostilities in Ukraine, which Russia has repeatedly denied.
Ukraine currently does not receive Russian gas due to an unsettled dispute over prices.
Ukraine's national oil and gas company Naftogaz stopped paying for consumed Russian gas on March 25. As of August 1, the overall debt of Naftogaz to Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom for supplied gas /without account for the debt under take-or-pay commitments/ totaled about $5.296 billion /$1.451 billion for November-December 2013 and some $3.845 billion for April-June 2014/.
Earlier, three-party talks on the gas price and repayment of the Ukrainian debt involved the heads of energy departments of Russia, the European Union and Ukraine - Alexander Novak, Guenther Oettinger and Yury Prodan. The consultations were launched May 2 and ended without result on June 16. Gazprom and Naftogaz then filed counterclaims to the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.
Gazprom on June 16 switched Naftogaz to prepayment for gas supplies because Kiev failed to pay part of its gas debt by the deadline of 10:00 Moscow Time on June 16. Gas supplies to Ukraine were halted, but transit volumes were reportedly passing via Ukraine to Europe in line with the schedule.