Ukranian officials have met representatives of the russian state utility Gazprom in Moscow. Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kuprianov says an agreement is still possible:
“If they agree to pay the asking price – then Ukraine could start legallyreceiving gas for its people from today”, he told reporters. Gazprom stopped exporting gas to Ukraine on Sunday after the Ukranian goverment refused to pay a fourfold hike in prices. Gazprom says shortages are due to Ukraine siphoning off gas for its own use. Kiev has denied the allegation, but says its entitled to take some gas if temperatures plummet. Eighty percent of Europe’s gas supply currently crosses Ukraine. Distribution is now back to normal. But the crisis has forced the EU to consider broadening its energy supply options. Relations between Russia and Ukraine have been tense since the general election last year. President Victor Yuschenko has promised to strengthen relations with the EU and NATO, and steer the country away from Russia´s influence.