This rather surprises me: didn\’t think they\’d be quite so crude about it.
The warning, which brought fresh accusations that Russia was using its natural resources to bully its neighbours, raised the prospect of a repeat of a gas dispute between the two countries last year that led to substantial energy shortfalls in the rest of Europe. The EU Commission called last night for a "swift settlement" to the crisis.
Russia\’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom denied charges that the Kremlin was seeking to punish Ukraine for an election that looks likely to hand control of parliament to the leaders of the 2004 Orange Revolution.
Claiming that Ukraine had debt arrears of £640 million, Gazprom delivered an ultimatum to President Viktor Yushchenko\’s government, giving it to the end of the month to pay up.
"If the debt is not settled in October, Gazprom will be forced to begin to cut natural gas supplies to Ukrainian consumers," Gazprom said in a statement. Ukrainian government officials said they were baffled by the threat and denied owing Gazprom anything near the amount it was demanding.
"We don\’t understand what Gazprom means," said Oleksy Fyodorov, of the Ukrainian state gas company Naftogaz. "We don\’t understand where this sum has come from."
That such pressure would be brought to bear doesn\’t surprise me in the least. Ukrainian independence, let alone it being pro-Western rather than looking to Moscow as the Slavic big brother, rather sticks in the craw of many a Russian. But quite so openly and nakedly?
Might actually work against them. If our rulers have any sense (not a foregone conclusion) they\’ll take note and at least attempt to diversify energy supplies away from reliance upon Russian gas. Over the long term thus the imposition of power in the short term will reduce the ability to do so in the long.