The EU has warned its relations with Russia and Ukraine could suffer if the two countries’ latest gas dispute once again cuts supplies to the bloc. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was expressing concern in the wake of ominous words from Moscow.
Vladimir Putin told his government that the taps would be turned off to Ukraine if Kiev failed to settle a critical bill for Russian gas. And this, he made clear, could have consequences for European customers. Within hours of the Russian prime minister’s warning, the country’s energy giant Gazprom confirmed it had, after all, been paid for February’s deliveries. But the saga is far from over, amid internal political feuding in Ukraine. State security officials there, apparently investigating alleged abuses in the gas sector, tried to stage a raid on the industry for the second day running. Valery Khoroshkovsky, the deputy head of the security service, said nothing would be done to interfere with gas contract obligations being fulfilled. But “we have a lot of doubts about the content of these contracts,” he added. An earlier raid on national energy firm Naftogaz also heightened tensions between Ukraine’s president and prime minister. Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko clashed over a deal in January to end a previous gas dispute with Russia that had caused shortages in several European countries.