The European Union will help Ukraine pay gas bills with Russia and provide them with gas if Moscow decides to cut them off. The response comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a letter to European leaders that threatened to cut off gas supplies if they did not help pay Ukraine’s debt to Russia. However, Putin said there was no direct response to the letter, which also included a request for a meeting over the debt.
Russia is a major supplier of gas to Europe and a majority of the pipelines run through Ukraine. Gazprom, Russia’s state owned gas company, built one pipeline outside of Ukraine to Europe. Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan told parliament the EU will make sure Russia does not use this pipeline or other pipelines to non-EU countries.
“Ukraine cannot pay such a political, uneconomic price, so now we are negotiating with the European Union about reverse deliveries into Ukraine,” Prodan said.
“We will make gas purchases from reverse flows urgently. On the conditions offered by European gas companies. We plan that they will be Germany’s RWE and a French gas company.”
The EU also does not believe Putin would shut off the gas since they depend on the money. European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger confirmed the EU will help Ukraine.
“We are in close contact with Ukraine and its gas company to ensure that Ukraine remains able to pay and the debts that the gas company has to Gazprom do not rise further,” he said, adding he would meet Ukraine’s energy and foreign ministers on Monday.
“I am preparing a solution that is part of the aid package that the IMF, the European Union and the World Bank is giving to Ukraine and from which payment for open bills will be possible,” he said.
Others might not be so confident since Russia did cut off gas in the past. In 2006 and 2009, Russia shut off the gas in the middle of winter, which led the nations to scramble to meet demand. After Gazprom threatened to shut off gas to Ukraine in early March, ambassadors from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland asked the US to export more natural gas to Europe.
On Friday, the US slammed Moscow for their threats over gas.
The United States accused Moscow of using its vast energy reserves to pressure the former Soviet republic. “We condemn Russia’s efforts to use energy as a tool of coercion against Ukraine,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
The US also threatened Russia with more sanctions if Moscow does not stop the aggression towards Ukraine. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the administration will go farther than the previous sanctions, which did include the energy sector. President Obama passed sanctions against Putin’s inner circle and his preferred bank after Russia officially annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
After Oettinger’s response and the threat of more sanctions, Putin told Europe Moscow will not stop their gas flow.
“I want to say again: We do not intend and do not plan to shut off the gas for Ukraine,” Putin said in televised comments at a meeting of his advisory Security Council. “We guarantee fulfillment of all our obligations to our European consumers.”
On March 13, Breitbart News’ Editor-at-Large and Cold War expert Peter Schweizer predicted the majority of aid from the US and EU would end up in Russia to pay for energy and gas.
A large chunk of those aid dollars will go to paying for fuel, which Ukraine buys from Moscow. And with Ukraine rich with aid dollars, analysts expect Moscow to jack up the price of energy substantially. Ukraine is heavily dependent on Russian energy, meaning the more western aid that flows to Kiev, the higher Moscow can inflate the price it charges, knowing that western dollars will subsidize paying the higher costs.
“The possibility of this is quite high,” Mikhail Korchemkin, director of U.S.-based firm East European Gas Analysis, told the Moscow Times.