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3rd 'Gas War' Looming Between Russia, Ukraine, EU

Published: August 14, 2014 (Issue # 1824)



  • Ukraine currently has enough gas to last until the New Year. What could follow in January was described by political pundit Pavel Salin as a communal catastrophe and a real threat to Ukraine's new leaders.
    Photo: Alex Malev / Flickr

Weather forecasters promise 32 degrees Celsius in Kiev on Thursday which makes the near-citywide absence of hot water due to a shortage of Russian gas more bearable.

But things could get much uglier in winter, when a "humanitarian catastrophe" looms, if the confrontation between Moscow and Kiev over Ukraine's rebellious eastern regions remains unresolved and Russia turns off the gas tap, analysts said.

While political pundits say the ongoing pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine is Moscow's last remaining leverage against Kiev, the Kremlin still has a "gas truncheon" at its disposal. Ukraine is entirely dependent on Russian gas supplies, and half of Russia's gas exports to Europe flow through its pipelines.

The gas weapon is ineffective in the summer, but a new "gas war" between Russia and Ukraine which would be the third so far is waiting to happen this fall, when the energy- and cash-strapped Ukraine will have to provide for its citizens and factories, experts said.

The worst case scenario is a season-long halt to Russian gas supplies to Ukraine and the European Union, which, while not leaving populations to freeze, would ground Ukraine's industrial output and cause supply disruptions in the European countries beyond.

But Kiev and Brussels are more likely either to cut a new deal with Russia which would also suffer from the "gas war" through lost revenues or just get gas elsewhere, though at a higher price, analysts said.

Turning Off the Tap

Technically, the third "gas war" kicked off in mid-June, when Russia stopped supplying gas to Ukraine over an unpaid bill for gas estimated by Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom at $5.3 billion.

Russia continues to supply gas to the EU through Ukrainian pipelines. Europe bought about 160 billion cubic meters of Russian gas in 2013, according to Gazprom, providing for 35 percent of EU's total gas consumption, put by think tank Eurogas at 462 billion cubic meters.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with todays free exhibition in the citys Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled Under the Rustling Wings, the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontovs play The Masquerade, which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBAs Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends. Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmChams Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spas Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the citys cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the citys KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the clubs website or in person at either the arenas box office or the clubs merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russias energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russias largest economic sector.



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