Ukraine has agreed to let EU monitors make sure it is not siphoning off Russian gas meant for Europe.
It is a diplomatic victory for the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek who was plunged into frantic negotiations last week. Russia had already halted supplies to Ukraine due to a row, but then it stopped supplying gas to Europe too amid accusations that Ukraine was stealing gas from its cross-country pipeline. Moscow now says European supplies can resume, but Ukraine remains cut off. The two neighbours are at daggers drawn over bills Moscow says it is owed, and a hike in the gas price to almost double, which Kiev says is unacceptable. Certain countries in Europe are 100 per cent dependent on Russian gas. The Russian decision last week saw gas supplies halted without notice to countries like Bulgaria and Serbia. EU observers will now be stationed in Ukraine and Russia to stop the same thing happening again. Eighty per cent of Russian gas to Europe goes through Ukraine.