As it feels the effects of the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine, the European Union is turning up the heat on both countries to find a solution.
Energy bosses from Moscow and Kiev will argue their case to EU representatives today. But they will find patience in Brussels is wearing thin, amid reports that Russian gas flows to Europe via Ukraine have now stopped completely. “They should solve this issue so that we can go on having trust in Russia as a supplier of gas to Europe. We are very important customers,” said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. He also stressed the importance of having trust in Ukraine as a transit country “because Ukraine is trying to be closer to the European Union.” Whoever is to blame, countries inside and outside the bloc have had their supplies hit with Eastern and Central Europe bearing the brunt of the row. Like nations across the continent, Bosnia has been beset by bitterly cold weather in recent days. Disruption there has brought back painful memories of the conflict in the early to mid 1990s when heating was often off in the winter. Sarajevo resident Snjezana Kordic said: “We are in a war-like situation here. I can’t believe that in the 21st century someone can shut down the gas like this.” Bulgaria is shivering too. Like Bosnia, it has been badly hit by a cut in supplies. “We feel the gas crisis already,” said Sofia resident Diana Hristova. “The central heating has been turned down. We are trying to keep warm with an electric heater but it is not the same.” Ukraine has denied Russian claims that it has been stealing gas destined for Europe. The EU wants an independent monitoring mission to be deployed.