Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a letter to 18 European leaders concerning the Ukrainian debt for gas supplies and pointing to the overall deteriorating situation of the Ukrainian economy. Putin in the letter states that Moscow has unilaterally helped Kiev several times in the past, adding that Ukraine’s economy has been plummeting in the past several months.
“Its industrial and construction sectors have also been declining sharply,” reads the letter obtained by the TASR newswire on April 10. “Its budget deficit is mounting. The condition of its currency system is becoming more and more deplorable. The negative trade balance is accompanied by the flight of capital from the country. Ukraine's economy is steadfastly heading towards a default, a halt in production and skyrocketing unemployment.”
The Russian President notes that Russia and the EU member states are Ukraine’s major trading partners; but claims that since the Russia-EU Summit at the end of January, when Russia came to an agreement with European partners to hold consultations on the subject of developing Ukraine’s economy, all attempts on Russia’s part to begin real consultations failed to produce any results. Putin stated that since Ukraine became independent, Russia has supported the stability of its economy by supplying it with natural gas at cut-rate prices. According to the contract from January 2009 between Russia and Ukraine, the total volume of natural gas delivered to Ukraine during the period of 2009-2014 stands at 147.2 billion cubic meters, Putin pointed out.
Putin in the letter blames the lack of balance in the trade with EU for Ukraine’s current economic problems. Putin declared that Gazprom has no intentions except for those stipulated in the 2009 contract, nor does it plan to set any additional conditions. The debt of NAK Naftogaz Ukraine for delivered gas has been growing monthly this year, noted the Kremlin leader, adding that in March there was still a discount price, but Ukraine did not pay a single dollar. Under such conditions - as stipulated in the contract - Gazprom is compelled to switch over to advance payment for gas deliveries, and in the event of further violation of the conditions of payment, will completely or partially cease gas deliveries, said Putin, conceding that this is an extreme measure that increases the risk of siphoning off natural gas passing through Ukraine’s territory that is meant for European consumers.
Russia is ready to participate in the effort to stabilise and restore Ukraine’s economy, said Putin as quoted by TASR, adding that this mustn’t take place unilaterally, “but on equal conditions with our European partners”.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico announced on April 10 that the country is prepared to organise the reverse flow of gas from Slovakia to Ukraine, the Sme daily wrote in its April 11 issue. Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák said during negotiations in Kiev, according to the Interfax newswire, that the country has already started to prepare technologically for sending the gas in reverse direction, to the east. Both the European Union and the US push on reversing the flow of gas. Slovakia shouldn’t be endangered by the gas cut-offs; but technical problems will postpone the practical sending of gas in reverse direction. Slovakia could send bigger volumes (about 9 billion cubic meters a year) of gas to Ukraine only in spring 2015. Fico also confirmed that Slovak secret service is watching closely the developments in Ukraine as the risk of larger de-stabilisation looms.
(Source: TASR, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
11. Apr 2014 at 13:00