Amid fears its dispute with Ukraine could cause an energy crisis across Europe, Russia has pledged to restore full gas supplies to the continent.
The taps will remain turned off as far as Kiev is concerned, but Russian state monopoly Gazprom says it has now piped an extra 95 million cubic metres of gas – destined for other countries – through Ukrainian territory. It has also promised Europe will see a return to full supplies by Tuesday evening.
Since Ukraine’s gas was cut, many European nations have reported shortfalls.
That has led Gazprom’s deputy head, Alexander Medvedev, to accuse Ukraine of stealing. He claims the country has siphoned off supplies to the tune of more than 21 million euros.
Gazprom stopped providing its neighbour with energy after Ukraine refused a Russian demand for a more than four-fold increase in the price.
Kiev’s western-leaning government claims Russia is using its control over the resource as a political weapon, something Moscow denies. Urging European principles to be applied in a bid to resolve the conflict, Ukraine’s president has said he wants international experts to help with negotiations. Viktor Yushchenko has spoken to the leader of neighbouring Moldova, another ex-Soviet state that has shifted its attentions to the West from Moscow. The tiny country says its supplies have all but been cut off by Russia, because it refused to accept higher prices. Ukraine denies stealing gas destined for others but it says that under existing contracts, it has the right to take a share, and would do this if temperatures fall below -3 degrees celcius.