Slovakia opened a pipeline on Tuesday which can deliver natural gas from the European Union to Ukraine.
The EU’s so-called reverse (ie eastbound) gas flows are a sign of solidarity with Kyiv after Russia’s Gazprom cut supplies to Ukraine on June 16 in a row over pricing and in the wake of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyiuk said the pipeline, which could potentially meet up to 20 percent of Ukraine’s demand, showed his country was united with the EU, which is itself worried about Russian supply cuts as East-West tension escalates.
With the big freeze on its way, Hungary and Poland also have pipelines able to send gas eastward to Ukraine but the Slovak link boasts the biggest capacity of the three.
Russia is Europe’s biggest supplier of oil, coal and natural gas, and its pipelines through Ukraine are subject to political manoeuvring, not for the first time, as the West and Moscow clash over the latter’s military action in Ukraine.