Russia 'to keep block on EU gas'

Moscow demands Russian gas monitors be part of expert team being sent to Ukraine.

    Kiev refuses to pay western European prices for its gas [AFP]



    "We are disappointed by Russia's position because we believe that the Russian side has no reason to refuse this proposal and not to allow the resumption of supplies into Ukraine and European countries," he told reporters in Brussels.

    "I can't name a date and time when gas will be reinstated," Piebalgs said.

    Gas 'stolen'

    Gazprom stopped all gas shipments to Ukraine on January 1 amid a row over payments, and later accused Ukraine of stealing gas intended for Europe.

    Gazprom also stopped all deliveries of gas to Europe via Ukraine on Wednesday, saying that this was the only way to prevent such "thefts" in a major escalation of the conflict which provoked outrage in Europe.

    Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker said: "There is no long-term contract between Russia and Ukraine – it has to be renewed every year - and that means at the end of every year we see a situation like this, so this dispute is not going to be solved overnight.

    "The dispute has called into question the relationship between the EU and Russia as well ... it does damage to Russia's reputation as a credible supplier across Europe and the EU but also as an international political player as well."

    Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, said on Thursday that Ukraine was to blame for the crisis.

    "Russia is not guilty. It is not us who stopped the gas. We even continued to pump after Ukraine had closed all the pipes," he told reporters at his residence outside Moscow.

    'Credibility damaged'

    Ukrainian officials have denied Russian accusations that they siphoned off gas intended for Europe, saying they needed to use some of the Russian gas to keep the pipelines running.

    Putin insists that Ukraine must use its own gas for such a purpose.

    He also indicated that Russia would not compromise on its insistence that Ukraine pays market prices for gas of more than $400 per 1,000 cubic metres, far higher than the $180 it paid in 2008.

    The EU has accused both Russia and Ukraine of showing insufficient determination to resolve their dispute.

    "Both sides have to date shown insufficient determination to solve the problem, which damages their credibility," the EU said in a statement.

    The EU has called a meeting of energy ministers for January 12 to discuss the situation and concrete measures that may be taken to improve security of supply.

    Russia is the world's biggest natural gas producer and provides about a quarter of the gas used in the European Union - about 40 per cent of the gas the bloc imports. 

    About 80 per cent of the imports pass through Ukraine.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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