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Gazprom is adamant to halt gas supplies to Ukraine if no agreement is reached
The Russian gas monopoly Gazprom is adamant to halt gas supplies to Ukraine if no agreement is reached. Alexander Medvedev, Gazprom deputy chief, told Channel 1 of the Russian television that in this case deliveries will be halted at 10 a.m., Moscow time, on January 1 if prices are not agreed by that time. Nevertheless, he expressed hope that the issue will be solved but warned that “time is running out.” Medevedev added that Gazprom is prepared to face the opponents in the European Court of Arbitration. “Of course, it’s the worst option. But if Ukraine decides (to bring the case to court), we are in full preparedness,” he said. Meanwhile, head of the Ukrainian president’s secretariat Oleg Rybachuk said there will be no problem with gas in the country after January 1, 2006. “My forecast is that nothing will change after January 1, 2006,” he noted, stressing that Ukrainian citizens and enterprises “should feel totally quiet.” According to Rybachuk, “private consumers, individuals and communal services will feel no difference at all, while the interests of enterprises will be defended toughly, and the talks are conducted in this way.” Rybachuk has no doubts that a compromise will be found in talks with Russia on the gas question. “The compromise will be as follows: Ukraine admitted and admits now the need for switching over to world prices, but the key question is a schedule for switching over to these prices,” he explained. “Not a single country in the world will switch over to a thrice-repeated rise in prices overnight.” According to the secretariat chief, “Russian negotiators understand this”, and “this is understandable for the entire world.” “The world public has developed a clear opinion that if any problems pop up, this will mean that Gazprom does not fulfill its foreign economic obligations,” the secretariat chief added. Therefore, he claimed, “there is nothing to speak” about implementation of the contract on gas deliveries to Ukraine. Rybachuk expressed regret at the same time that despite all calls, the question is “extremely politicized.” Meanwhile, Naftogaz Ukrainy CEO Alexei Ivchenko said on Sunday that Gazprom does not have legal grounds for terminating gas deliveries to Ukrainian clients. “Relations between Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy are regulated with a long-term contract on the amount and terms of Russian gas transit through the Ukrainian territory in 2003-2013,” he said. “If Gazprom breaches the agreement, Russia will take the blame. It is impossible to stop gas supplies technically and legally, so nothing will happen on January 1.” However, leader of the Ukrainian opposition Party of Regions and former prime minister Viktor Yanukovich blamed the national authorities for not trying to resolve the gas problem on Sunday. “The issue is politicized, and anti-Russian feelings are being incited,” Yanukovich said on Russia’s Channel 1. “Their goal is obvious to us – it’s destabilization. We clearly realize that the authorities are considering chances to deceive the Ukrainian people once again ahead of the elections,” Yanukovich said.
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