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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

EU Desperate to Return Gas to Europe from Russia through Ukraine

Submitted to Operation Disclosure,

EU desperate to strike a deal with Russia to return gas to Europe through Ukraine

An end to the silent gas supply crisis in Europe appears to be close.

Russia has vowed to restore full services once EU observers are in place to check flows moving through Ukraine pipelines.

Diplomats in Prague said the European Union would send monitors to Ukraine today, to be deployed at the main metering stations for gas arriving from Russia.

The Czech EU presidency said the monitors agreement 'should lead to the Russian supplies of gas to EU member states being restored. Czech officials, however, declined to give any details of the deal.

The apparent breakthrough came after a phone conversation yesterday between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Nevertheless, Russia and Ukraine have yet to agree on a price for Russian gas deliveries. Yesterday Mr Putin again demanded that Kiev pay the going market rate up front.

Russia's state-controlled gas company Gazprom has accused Ukraine's Naftogaz in the past of siphoning off supplies and refusing to pay its gas supply bills. Ukraine denies these accusations and says it did not deserve to have the gas tap turned off, which Russia secretly did last week.

About 80 per cent of EU-bound gas from Russia comes via Ukraine, prompting concerns for fuel supplies across member states.

Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller, speaking after talks with European Union officials in Brussels, also said he would hold further face-to-face talks with Ukraine's Naftogaz on a flight back to Moscow to try to restore supplies to Europe. 'This must be resolved today,' Miller told reporters.

Earlier yesterday Russia and Ukraine failed to reach agreement over the gas dispute which has left 12 European countries without power, 18 affected in all. Despite the EU giving company bosses at the centre of the crisis just 24-hours to restore supplies, talks quickly stalled.

As 18 European countries reported cuts to supplies, the leaders of both Russia and Ukraine were warned to stop treating Europe's gas supply as a 'hostage', as millions of people struggled to cope in sub-zero temperatures, it has emerged that gas prices could also soar in Britain if there is not a swift resolution to the crisis.

Moscow has slowly pulled the plug on three major pipelines after a pricing dispute with Ukraine.

Supplies have dwindled throughout this week and today Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic confirmed their pipelines were empty. With Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Turkey already out of gas.

Italy suffered a 90 per cent plunge, France was down 70 per cent and Germany 65%.

Britain, however, is unlikely to run out of gas as only two per cent of supplies come from Russia which can be replaced from other sources if necessary.

There is little sign of resolution to the row with Moscow and Kiev both blaming each other for cutting supply. Russia has accused Ukraine of 'stealing' about 15 per cent of the gas it ships across its former Soviet neighbor to European states.

'Ukraine has stolen gas not from Russia, but from consumers who have bought the product and paid for it,' Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said.

The European Union has called for flow to be restored and branded the situation 'completely unacceptable'. An EU spokesman said: 'It is unacceptable that the EU gas supply security is taken hostage to negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.'

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