Fresh Russian gas is reaching Europe after a two-week squeeze. But the contract row between Russia and Ukraine which caused the cut in supplies transitting to some 20 countries has left a strong smell in the air. Europe is wrinkling its now over Russia’s reliability.
Brussels is letting off steam about maybe taking the giant supplier Gazprom to court, and is suggesting the customers it left out in the cold might like to do so too. Gazprom’s new contract with Kiev doubles the price the Ukrainians have to pay, and it warns that falling behind in payments would raise that price. There is concern that political infighting in Kiev could cause the deal to unravel. Russia provides about a quarter of Europe’s gas requirements and pumps 80 percent of this via Ukraine. The president of the European Commission appears in a fiesty mood. He said: “When we sign an agreement, or even without signing an agreement, when we give our word, consequences should follow this. And during this crisis, several times it happened that we were told by both the Russian leadership and Ukrainian leadership that something was going to happen and afterwards nothing was happened. I will not forget that.” It has been an alarming two weeks, even though some countries were able to help others with emergency supplies. One capital, Sofia, said the impact of the supply cuts resembled a “terrorist attack.”