Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Gas crisis politics

Today Gazprom reduced gas supplies to Ukraine by 35%, not the 25% they had threatened. Meanwhile a Naftohaz Ukrainy spokesman says Ukraine has sufficient gas to last at least a month.

Gazprom has put forward a new proposed agreement 'on the development of Russian-Ukrainian relations in the gas sphere', and a Naftohaz 'delegatsiya' is to go to Moscow by the end of the week for further negotiations.

A possible direction in which the crisis could be heading is indicated by Tymoshenko's first vice-premier Oleksandr Turchynov's declaration that Gazprom have not been paying transit fees for Russian gas piped westward via Ukrainian territory since December 2007.

This prompted an immediate response from Gazprom spokesman Sergiy Kuprianov, that Gazprom have not paid any transit fees because they had not been invoiced by Naftohaz Ukrainy, even though Gazprom have no problem paying for these services in full, and in a timely manner.

PoR are demanding that parliament debates the current gas crisis, and that the government reports on how they will be defending the country's interests in this situation. PoR may insist a 'no-confidence' motion be proposed in the government, leading to a possible reformation of the government.

Even though relationships between President and PM have gotten even worse lately, some commentators feel that the President is not yet ready to support such a radical step - it would reduce his chances for a second presidential term even more.

However, if the gas crisis deepens, and/or other economic crises flare up too, calculations may alter. [Maybe that's why gas deliveries have been cut back more than had been initially threatened.]

But right now the blockage of parliament may suit the President's purposes.

p.s. Couldn't Naftohaz Ukrainy say, "We ain't talkin' while people are pointing guns at one another's head. We ain't talking to nobody till the gas is turned on. Transit fees were agreed and fixed for the next five years so no money for transit - no gas for Europe..But this would be plain childish, wouldn't it?

p.p.s. Best analysis from any source on this topic from Hans here

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