Ukraine has started siphoning off Russian gas bound for European customers. This follows the cutoff of gas supplies to Ukraine on January 1, after the two countries’ gas giants failed to agree on a price for 2009.
“The Ukrainian side has openly admitted to stealing transit gas destined for Europe. Naftogaz officials are avoiding negotiations with Gazprom. However, they have promised to pay $US 1.5 billion by January 11, but there will still be an outstanding debt of $US 614 million. Therefore, we plan to increase the transit level of gas through Belarus,” said Sergey Kupriyanov, spokesman for Russian energy company Gazprom.
Ukraine, however, has denied it is siphoning off gas from transit pipes.
Also, according to Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko, Russia has asked the EU parliament to hold a special meeting to discuss the issue of Russian gas transits via Ukraine.