Russian energy company Gazprom said it will suspend gas to Ukraine over a $1.89 billion debt. It will still deliver gas and energy to Europe.
“Ukraine has de-facto stopped paying for gas… We cannot deliver gas for free. Either Ukraine pays the debt and pays for current supplies or the risk appears of a return to the situation at the start of 2009,” said Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller, quoted by Russian news agencies.
Russia shut off all natural gas to Ukraine in 2006 and 2009 over disputes on prices. Europe was cut off and the nations had to scramble to meet demand. It was then-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko who sealed a new deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to turn on the gas. However, she was quickly jailed after she lost to deposed president Viktor Yanukovych on charges of corruption over the deal. Many in the European Union believe the charges to be political. She was released the day Ukraine’s parliament voted out Yanukovych.
Even though Gazprom said its decision to shut off the gas is over unpaid debts, it is quite possible the company is doing this because of Ukraine’s new government. It would punish the new government, which is already facing numerous problems from Russia. A U.S. official said Russia is in full control of Crimea, an autonomous republic of Ukraine. Crimea’s parliament has formally asked to join the Russian Federation.
Bulgaria receives 90% of its gas through Ukraine and will stockpile its supplies.
In 1981, a memo sent by the CIA to President Reagan said the US needed to warn Europe not to build a pipeline from Russia and rely on it for their energy. The CIA’s main concern was the then-Soviet nation would hold Europe hostage.