x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Russia warns of gas disruptions

The ongoing dispute with Ukraine, an important gas transit state, is to blame says Russia.

Russia has warned of disruptions to its gas supply to Europe this winter if its dispute with Ukraine over gas pricing and payment is not resolved. Raising fears of a repeat of the cuts Europeans suffered during the coldest month of 2006, the Russian first deputy prime minister Viktor Zubkov laid the blame for the situation on it neighbour ? an important gas-transit state ? and moved away from rhetoric that had earlier sought to calm European concerns.

"It is not ruled out that the current position of the Ukrainian side and some of its actions could lead to disruptions in the stability of gas supplies to Europe," Mr Zubkov, who is also the chairman of the Russian state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom, said on Monday, on the eve of an international gas producers' forum in Moscow. "The responsibility for a worsening critical situation that could have an impact on European gas consumers lies fully with the Ukrainian side, and the key to regulating the situation lies with them," he added.

Tension between Russian and Ukraine in their perennial dispute over gas pricing is especially high this year because of Moscow's recent military intervention in Georgia, Ukrainian political turmoil and the global economic crisis. Russia has threatened to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine unless that country settles US$2.4 billion (Dh8.8bn) of unpaid gas bills. tcarlisle@thenational.ae