Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Gas: Ukraine finally sees sense

After withholding gas supplies illegally and refusing to allow EU observers in to check, Kiev agrees to guarantee Russian gas transit to the European Union in full and also to permit observers to check the points of entry and exit. Moscow’s insistence that supplies to the EU should not be affected has therefore been honouredby Ukraine.

In a meeting today in Brussels, Ukraine energy company Naftogaz agreed to guarantee transit of gas supplies from Russia to the European Union in full, according to the company’s Director, Oleh Dubyna. In the meeting with the Russian energy supplier Gazprom, Dubyna declared that "The current situation and existing misunderstandings emerged as a result of economic issues rather than political difficulties. They should be resolved with account for the sides' economic interests”.

Dubyna also stated that EU experts will be allowed to monitor the Russian gas supply’s points of entry and exit in Ukrainian territory, so as to control the transit of Russian gas through to western Europe, something which Kiev had previously refused to allow. The Ukrainian authorities closed three pipelines on Tuesday, halting supplies of Russian gas to Hungary, Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, and Bosnia and seriously disrupting supplies to Italy, Poland, France and Slovenia. On Wednesday, the Ukraine closed the other pipeline supplying Austria, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia.

It is expected that the talks will continue in Moscow during the rest of the week.

It is not a question of whether Russia is a reliable supplier, but rather, whether Ukraine is a reliable and law-abiding transit partner, which uses Europe’s gas supplies as a pawn in its petty feuds with Moscow, while refusing to pay its debts and expecting special scot-free prices.