The gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine has prompted the European Union to call a crisis meeting in Brussels for Monday, as four EU countries report a drop in Russian gas supplies. Russia cut supplies to Ukraine on New Year’s Day in a row over an unpaid bill.
The Czech Republic, which is just three days into its tenure of the EU presidency, has found itself at the centre of the row. The deputy Prime Minister urged both sides to agree soon. With temperatures below freezing, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria all report a drop in Russian gas supplies via Ukraine. Ukraine said Russia has cut supplies, accusing it of ‘energy blackmail’. Gazprom has accused Ukraine of stealing gas bound for Europe. Gazprom’s chief executive Alexei Miller said: “Our European clients find themselves unable to use our gas which transits Ukraine. So our obligation is to step up output on pipelines which avoid Ukraine.” And that means via Belarus, Turkey and from underground storage facilities in Europe. The EU presidency said the 27 nation bloc has sufficient gas reserves for now. But memories are still sharp of three years ago, when a similar dispute disrupted supplies in mid-winter.