Russia and Ukraine have failed to work out a compromise in their bitter dispute over supplies of Russian natural gas. The row has flared since a Kremlin backed candidate lost in Ukraine’s presidential election last year. The two countries’ prime ministers met in Moscow but made no progress. Up till now Russia has supplied Ukraine at below market rates – in return for it allowing gas to pass through the country, in pipelines, to Western Europe. But now Moscow wants to quadruple the prices.
Ukrainian energy specialist Volodymr Saprykin said: “It’s definitely political, because the country’s that haven’t built up what the Russian’s consider to be a proper relations with them, they have had their prices raised. The countries that haven’t behaved as the Russians wanted are places like Modova, Poland and Ukraine.” Ukraine recently asked the EU to intervene on its behalf which brought this response from Putin’s advisor on European affairs Sergey Yastrzyhembsky: “The EU could of course play a bigger role, as they gave Ukraine the status of a market economy, but explaining the basics, surely doesn’t the phrase ‘market economy’ exclude any use of barter agreements.”
Russia has threatened to cut supplies if a deal isn’t signed by January 1st. Angry Ukrainians demonstrated outside the Russian ambassador’s residence. By contrast, Moscow has just agreed to supply gas next year, at even lower prices to Belarus, another former Soviet state which has cracked down on dissent and any moves towards western style democracy.