Ukraine receives first Russian gas since June cut

Ukraine receives first Russian gas since June cut

KIEV - Agence France-Presse
Ukraine receives first Russian gas since June cut

In this Wednesday, May 21, 2014 file photo, a Ukrainian worker operates a valve at a gas storage point in Bil 'che-Volicko-Ugerske underground gas storage facilities in Strij, outside Lviv. AP Photo

Energy-starved Ukraine said Dec. 9 it had received the first Russian natural gas shipments since a politically charged price dispute saw Moscow cut off supplies to its Westward-leaning neighbor in June.

The announcement means that the war-torn nation of 45 million people should have enough power to heat homes through the bitter winter months.

Ukraine was forced to delay school openings by a month and postpone the launch of winter household heating due to its severe fuel shortages.

“Imports from Russia began two days earlier than planned,” Ukraine’s gas transport company Ukrtransgaz said in a statement.

A spokesman for Russia’s state-owned gas giant Gazprom said the shipments resumed at 10:00 a.m. Moscow time.      

The former Soviet republic received nearly half its gas from Russia prior to a revolution in February that ousted a Moscow-backed president and led the new government to sign up for closer ties with the EU.

The dramatic political shift out of Russia’s orbit prompted Moscow to cancel the special rates it had offered Ukraine in the past, more than doubling the price.         

Kiev called the rate hike a form of “economic aggression” and refused to pay the extra amount.
But Russia demanded immediate payment for past debts and future deliveries following the change of leadership in Kiev.

Moscow and Kiev managed to strike a short-term price formula with the help of EU mediation on October 30.

The six-month deal required Ukraine to pay Russia $3.1 billion by the end of the year to cover past debts.