RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – Jan 7th, 2009

070109.jpgTODAY: Gas row dominates the press as Gazprom cuts off all supplies to Ukraine.

Gazprom has confirmed that it shut off of all gas deliveries through Ukrainian territory – about 80% of all Russian gas – early this morning, sparking outrage from the EU who called the situation ‘completely unacceptable’.  Gazprom is blaming Naftogaz for forcing it to retaliate against the undisguised theft of Russian supplies, which, it says, is a result of Ukraine shutting down all of its pipelines carrying gas intended for Europe.  The reductions have led to immediate shortages as far as France and Austria, and the UK’s Independent newspaper has a detailed map of the major EU pipelines to explain why.  Naftogaz says that negotiations with Gazprom will begin again tomorrow.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has written a letter to President Dmitry Medvedev demanding that Russia resume gas shipments to Europe immediately, but Gazprom’s Alexander Medvedev accused Ukraine of ‘behaving like a barbarian’, and said that the situation was causing Gazprom and its clients to be ‘held hostage’.  But much of the press sides against Gazprom, with one article calling it a ‘pioneer of unscrupulous national power and wealth’

The gas crisis ‘highlights the [European Union’s] inability to gain clout in world affairs.’ What are the bloc’s options when it comes to securing natural gas supplies?  This article looks at the challenges facing the completion of the Nabucco pipeline, heralded by many as the way out of energy dependence on Russia.

PHOTO: A woman carries balloons during snowfall in the southern Russian city of Stavropol January 5, 2009. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko