Russia’s Gazprom is due to resume gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine on Tuesday morning, when the newly signed three-way gas transit deal between Russia, Ukraine and the EU comes into force.
According to Russia’s envoy to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, the European Commission was the last of the three parties to sign it on Monday after Russia and Ukraine.
The only unresolved issue at the moment is the ‘process gas’ question.
For more on the background to the gas crisis please follow the link.
Earlier, Moscow put the agreement on hold after Kiev signed the paper with a note “with declaration attached”. The sticking point was the additional document that Ukraine had added to the agreement. Russia said the additions contradicted the original text of the agreement and included obvious lies. One of the points said Ukraine had paid all the debts to Gazprom in full, while the other stated Ukraine had not stolen gas earmarked for Europe.
Eventually Ukraine had to withdraw this additional document and sign the deal without it. Later, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko ordered the government to guarantee Russian gas transits to Europe.
His government will be aided in this by international monitors, whose presence is the main condition of the new transit deal. They have already arrived at the assigned points to control the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine.
Putin speaks out
Prime Minister Validimir Putin explained why Russia had earlier refused to put the protocol into effect.
“Without coordinating with the Russian side, a remark was made, which in the opinion of our specialists and lawyers, changed the essence of the signed protocol.
Therefore we have demanded from our Ukrainian partners that they rescind this document, without any declarations that have not been agreed with us.
This was done today. […]
As soon as independent observers are deployed at gas pumping stations and we are sure that they are able to control the transit of our gas – only then will Gazprom supply gas to Ukraine’s gas transport system so that it can be passed on to European consumers.
We once again express our regret at the situation.”
No gas since January 7
Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on January 1 after talks on debt and a gas price for 2009 broke down and was forced to fully stop sending gas through Ukraine on January 7, to prevent the theft of any gas bound for Europe.
Since then Europe has not received any gas from Russia via Ukraine, through which 80% of Russia’s supplies to Europe pass. Some 20 countries were affected by the gas row.
Homes are unheated, schools and businesses closed and people are freezing because of the deadlock. Hundreds of thousands of Europeans have faced severe gas shortages, but Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Serbia are feeling the brunt, while Germany, also hit by the halt, has tapped into its reserves.
Both Ukraine and Russia have been criticised by the European Union for letting the dispute go so far.