Ukraine vil højst betale 201 $ pr. tusind kubikmeter gas, oplyser formanden for Ukraines statslige olie- og naturgasselskab "Naftohaz Ukrajiny", Oleg Dubyna med henvisning til en fælles erklæring fra præsident Viktor Jusjtjenko og premierminister Julia Tymoshenko. Samtidig mener Ukraine, at transitgebyret for den russiske gas skal være 2,05 $ for tusind kubikmeter pr. 100 km.
Oleg Dybuna siger, at prisen på 250 $ pr. tusind kubikmeter gas, som det russiske gasselskab Gazprom insisterer på, er økonomisk ubegrundet og uacceptabel. Samtidig understreger Dubyna, at "Naftohaz Ukrajiny" ikke har noget gæld overfor selskabet "RosUkrEnergo", som er leverandør af den russiske gas.
Ifølge Dubyna har "Naftohaz Ukrajiny" den 30. december afregnet for al den gas, man har forbrugt i 2008, ved at overføre 1, 52 mia. dollars til "RosUkrEnergo". Dubyna understregede, at Naftohaz ikke har ansvaret for det videre mellemværende mellem "RosUkrEnergo" og Gazprom.
"Ifølge de oplysninger, som jeg har fra Gazprom, modtog de 511 millioner den 31. Det er ikke mit problem, at spørge "RosUkrEnergo", hvorfor de ikke har betalt de penge, de modtog, på én gang?", siger formanden for Ukraines statslige olie- og naturgasselskab. "Jeg vil ikke ud i spekulationer om, hvorvidt de har valgt at dele betalingen op i to for at score en rentefordel i helligdagene efter den 31. december", tilføjer han. "Det er et mellemværende mellem dem. Det, jeg ved, er, at jeg den 30. har opfyldt alle forpligtelserne ifølge kontrakten", tilføjede han.
Desuden understreger Dubyna, at bøder, som ikke er stadfæstet af en domstolsbeslutning, ikke er gæld. Han tilføjer, at han ikke har noget kendskab til en ny "gæld", som selskabet "RosUkrEnergo" er begyndt at tale om.
"Der er indgivet et søgsmål mod "Naftohaz Ukrajiny" på 55 mio. ved den internationale voldgiftsdomstol i Stockholm. Det drejer sig om et mellemværende mellem Naftohaz og "RosUkrEnergo" fra 2006. Der er advokater, som arbejder med dette søgsmål. Det er, hvad jeg ved. Andet ved jeg ikke", oplyser Dubyna. UP.
Ukraines præsident Viktor Jusjtjenko insisterer på, at der ikke skal være nogle mellemmænd i gassamarbejdet mellem Ukraine og Rusland. Det meddelte præsidentens talsmand i energipolitiske spørgsmål, Bohdan Sokolovskyj på et pressemøde lørdag, da han skulle svare på spørgsmål om præsidentens holdning til det hidtidige mellemhandlerselskab - "RosUkrenergo"s - rolle i leverancerne af gas fra Rusland til Ukraine.
"Præsident Viktor Jusjtjenko insisterer på, at der ikke skal være nogle mellemmænd i vores samarbejde i gassektoren. Det betyder, at samarbejdet skal være direkte - mellem Naftohaz og Gazprom, uden nogle former for mellemhandlere! Dette er et krav fra statsoverhovedet", understregede Sokolovskyj."Med hensyn til de ønsker, som bliver fremsat fra russisk side, så er det ikke det ukrainske statsoverhoveds holdning, men den anden parts holdning, sagde talsmanden. På spørgsmålet om, hvorvidt Rusland insisterede på, at "RosUkrenergo" fortsat skal være mellemmænd, svarede Sokolovskyj: "Jeg har sagt, det jeg har sagt".
Som tidligere nævnt, så har Ruslands premierminister Vladimir Putin for nylig sagt, at man fra russisk side var parat til at underskrive en direkte kontrakt med det ukrainske statslige olie- og naturgasselskab, "Naftohaz Ukrajiny". Putin svarede også på spørgsmålet om, hvem mellemhandlerselskabet "RosUkrenergo" tilhører.
"På vores side tilhører 50% af "RosUkrenergo" umiddelbart Gazprom, mens den anden halvdel tilhører nogle ukrainske personer, hvis identitet vi ikke kender, udover, at vi en gang er blevet præsenteret for hr. Firtash, som jeg personligt aldrig har mødt eller hilst på", sagde Putin.
På spørgsmålet om, hvem Firtash arbejder for, sagde Putin: "Det må de ikke spørge os om, men dem, som han arbejder for". UP.
Der er hjælp på vej til to af de hårdest ramte lande af gaskonflikten mellem Rusland og Ukraine. I dag meddelte den ukrainske regering, at den vil forsyne Bulgarien og Moldova med gas fra ukrainske lagre.
De to små østeuropæiske lande er næsten helt afhængig af gas fra Rusland via rørledninger gennem Ukraine. Men de to lande har ikke fået gas, siden Rusland helt afbrød forsyninger gennem Ukraine nytårsdag.
Bruger af reservelagrene
Ukraine vil sende to millioner kubikmeter gas til de to lande dagligt, hed det i en erklæring fra ledelsen i Kijev.
Ukraine har store lagre af russisk gas til eget forbrug og har desuden selv en mindre produktion af gas fra egne kilder.
Det var ventet, at de russiske gasforsyninger var genoptaget i går. Men uenighed om observatører, der skal kontrollere gastransitten gennem Ukraine, har medført, at Rusland lørdag stadig ikke havde åbnet for gassen. dr.dk.nyheder
EU udstationerer uafhængige observatører ved den russisk-ukrainske grænse til at overvåge om gassen kommer ind. Det har både Rusland og Ukraine sagt ja til. Nu kræver EU, at gasforsyningen kommer tilbage.
En talskvinde for EU-kommissionen bekræfter over for nyhedsbureauet dpa, at både Rusland og Ukraine har sagt for aftalen om observatørerne.
- Der er indgået en aftale om observatørmissionens detaljer. Nu er det bydende nødvendigt, at gassen igen flyder til EU uden yderligere forsinkelse, hedder det også i en officiel erklæring fra kommissionen.
Ukraine får ikke gas
I aftes faldt et første gennembrud til jorden, da russerne krævede egne observatører med på holdet, mens ukrainerne ifølge nyhedsbureauet Itar-Tass kun ville tillade europæiske observatører. Men nu er de stridende parter i følge EU altså enige.
I første gang strømmer gassen bare i gennem Ukraine. Før landet får dog gas igen, skal de blive enige med Rusland om prisen. Men både Ruslands premierminister, Vladimir Putin, og den ukrainske præsident, Viktor Jusjtjenko, har tilkendegjort, at de vil arbejde for en sådan aftale.
Den russiske energigigant Gazprom har lovet at genoptage gaseksporten, så snart observatørerne er på plads ved gasstationerne, hvor det russiske gas ankommer til de ukrainske rørledninger. dr.dk.nyheder
Ifølge EU-kommissionen er russiske observatører optaget i det internationale observatørkorps, der på vegne af EU skal monitorere transitten af fas fra Rusland gennem Ukraine og videre ud til de europæiske forbrugere.
Ifølge den russiske præsident Dmitrij Medvedev har man fra russisk side ingen tiltro til ukrainerne længere, fordi de angiveligt kategorisk nægter at tillade, at repræsentanter for Gazprom kommer ind i Ukraine for at monitorere gastransitten.
Ukraines præsident Viktor Jusjtjenko har endnu ikke underskrevet en aftale om, at russiske observatører kan få lov til at arbejde i Ukraine sammen med observatører fra EU-lande.
Observatørerne skal overvåge den russiske gas gennem Ukraine for at sikre, at Ukraine ikke stjæler af den gas, russerne sender til kunder i andre lande.
Adskillige EU-lande er afhængig af russisk gas, og hundredtusinder af forbrugere i østeuropæiske lande har haft svært ved at holde varmen, siden russerne helt lukkede for leverancer gennem Ukraine tidligere på ugen.
Lederen af den ukrainske præsidents sekretariat og en af præsident Jusjtjenkos mest betroede medarbejdere, Viktor Baloha, udtaler i dag til de ukrainske medier, at formålet med den russiske gasafpresning er at opnå kontrol med det ukrainske gastransitsystem og en række strategiske virksomheder.
Ifølge Baloha har Rusland forberedt "gasnangebet på Ukraine" "grundigt og i lang tid, fordi kun en blåøjet person kan tro på, at den oparbejdede gæld er den virkelige årsag til, at russerne har stoppet med at eksportere gas til Ukraine".
"Med sit angreb på Kiev gør Moskva i virkeligheden et forsøg på én gang for alle at løse en række sammenflettede politiske og økonomiske problemer. Først og fremmest vil de skabe en række alvorlige problemer i ukrainsk økonomi, som indtil videre er afhængig af den russiske energiforsyning", mener lederen af præsidentens sekretariat.
"Deres planer går blandt andet ud på at opnå kontrol med det ukrainske gastransportsystem og en række strategiske virksomheder. Netop for at opnå dette mål har man skabt et gasunderskud, som efter russernes plan vil fremkalde en kædereaktion i økonomien og føre Ukraine til fallittens rand", mener Baloha.
Efter hans opfattelse har initiativtagerne til "gasterroren" kalkuleret med, at manglen på gas ville føre til et stop for industriproduktionen i Østukraine og en massearbejdsløshed, samt problemer med opvarmningen i de enkelte hjem, som ville føre tusinder af utilfredse borgere på gaden. Dette skulle efter planen destabilisere situationen i landet og bringe landets ledelse og først og fremmest præsident Viktor Jusjtjenko i miskredit, - påpeger Baloha.
"I al den tid Vladimir Putin har været leder, er forhandlingerne om leverancerne af russisk gas til Ukraine foregået mellem de samme repræsentanter, herunder den nuværende leder af "Naftohaz Ukrajiny" Oleh Dubyna. Gasproblemerne i de bilaterale relationer begyndte først, da Jusjtjenko blev præsident", - påpeger Baloha, som understreger, at dette med al ønskelig tydelighed viser, at baggrunden for den nuværende konflikt er rent politisk, ja nærmest personlig.
Efter hans opfattelse spiller Moskva "gaskortet" for gennem en kunstig skabt spænding at sikre sig nogle politiske platforme i Ukraine. Så meget desto mere, at visse politiske kræfter, deriblandt i det ukrainske parlament, i lang tid har været fortalere for det russiske styres interesser i Ukraine", Jusjtjenkos højre hånd. UP.
Ukraine har underskrevet en aftale, som tidligere er blevet underskrevet af EU-kommissionen og Rusland, om kontrollen med den russiske gas via Ukraine, .
"I dag har Ukraine underskrevet endnu en protokol, som ligner den, som EU og Ukraine har underskrevet i Bruxelles", - sagde Ukraines premierminister Julia Tymoshenko på en fælles pressekonference med Tjekkiets premierminister Mirek Topolanek efter forhandlinger natten til søndag", oplyser Interfaks-Ukrajina.
Tymoshenko påpegede, at Rusland ikke har underskrevet protokollen i Bruxelles.
"I dag har Ukraine endnu engang underskrevet en protokol, som giver eksperterne adgang til Ukraines territorium og til "Transgas".
Ifølge protokollen skal eksperterne også have adgang til russisk territorium for at kontrollere gasleverancerne til Rusland, og hvorvidt Rusland sender gassen videre", sagde Tymohsenko.
Ifølge den tjekkiske premierminister Mirek Topolanek har Ukraine hermed opfyldt alle betingelserne for en genoptagelse af gasleverancerne fra Ruslands side.
Den ukrainske regeringschef understregede, at Ukraine har underskrevet den samme protokol, som er underskrevet i Bruxelles, bortset fra de russiske præciseringer. "Den seneste udgave af protokollen, som er udarbejdet med russisk deltagelse, er utvivlsomt meget hårdere for Ukraine", sagde hun.
Ifølge Tymoshenko indeholder protokollen bestemmelser om eksperters adgang til kontrollen med transitten af russisk gas til Europa, samt en tilsvarende ret for eksperterne til at få adgang til leverancerne af den russiske gas til det ukrainske gastransportsystem.
Samtidig fremhævede Tymoshenko, at "Ukraine har lagt meget stor vægt på at understrege, at adgangen til kontrollen med Ukraines gaslagre kun kan ske i det omfang, det er nødvendigt for at sikre en stabil transit af den russiske gas til Europa".
"Fra russisk side har man ikke i protokollen givet adgang til en kontrol med Den russiske Føderations gaslagre", sagde hun.
I Gazprom har man ikke engang modtaget en faxkopi af det dokument, som er underskrevet i Kiev i nat", oplyser Gazproms informationskontor til nyhedsbureauet for gasinformation.
"Vi går ud fra, at "Bestemmelserne om monitorering..." skal underskrives i netop den udgave, som den russiske part har underskrevet, og Tjekkiet har paraferet", oplyser Gazprom. UP.
Ruslands præsident, Dmitrij Medvedev, har givet sin regering besked på at ignorere protokollen om international monitorering af gastransit gennem Ukraine, indtil man fra ukrainsk side har fjernet sine forbehold til dette dokument.
"Denne form for forbehold og tilføjelser kan jeg ikke betegne som andet end hån mod den sunde fornuft og et brud på de tidligere indgåede aftaler", sagde Medvedev på et møde med sin udenrigsminister Sergej Lavrov søndag.
Ifølge præsidenten "er disse skridt reelt rettet mod at undergrave de eksisterende aftaler om kontrollen med gastransitten, og de bærer et klart provokativt og destruktivt præg".
Derfor har den russiske regering fået besked på at ignorere det dokument, som Rusland i går underskrev med EU.
I en telefonsamtale søndag aften med EU-kommissionens formand Jose Manuel Barroso gjorde den russiske premierminister, Vladimir Putin, opmærksom på, at enhver tilføjelse til den protokol, som Rusland og EU underskrev i Moskva, der ikke er blevet afstemt med den russiske part i sagen, er uacceptabel. Ifølge Putin skal dokumentet underskrives af alle parter uden betingelser.
Putin understregede, at de ukrainske tilføjelser vender op og ned på hele protokollens essens, og desuden ikke har nogen relevans for sikringen af transitten af den russiske gas til de europæiske forbrugere gennem Ukraine, men derimod vedrører de handelsmæssige relationer mellem Gazprom og det ukrainske olie-og gasselskab Naftogaz Ukrajiny.
Ifølge Gazprom forlanger Ukraine i tillægsprotokollen, at Rusland dagligt leverer 21 millioner kubikmeter gas til Ukraine som betaling for transitten af russisk gas gennem ukrainsk territorium. UP.
EU-kommissionen meddelte i dag, at dens mission er parat til at monitorere transitten af gas, og derfor ikke ser nogen grund til en fortsat udsættelse af gasleverancerne.
EU-kommissionens pressetjeneste oplyser til de ukrainske medier, at EU-missionen allerede er på plads på gasmålestationen Sudzha i Rusland.
I Ukraine er en ekspertgruppe ankommet til Luhansk for at monitorere gastransitten på gasmålestationerne ved byerne Pysarivka og Sokhranovka. Søndag aften skulle en gruppe eksperter ankomme til kompressorstationen Orlovka ved Ukraines vestlige grænse.
En anden gruppe er taget til Uzhgorod for at holde øje med gastransitten på målestationerne Beregovo og Tekovo. En tredje gruppe, som skal arbejde på Ukraines vestlige grænse, skal efter planen ankomme til landsbyen Drozdovychi.
I Kiev har en ekspertgruppe adgang til "Naftohaz Ukrajinys" hovedekspeditionscenter, og har allerede aflagt den første rapport. En anden ekspertgruppe vil blive udstationeret på Gazproms hovedekspeditionscenter i Moskva.
Desuden understregede EU-kommissionen, at alle parter har modtaget kopier af den underskrevne protokol vedrørende monitoreringsmissionens arbejde. UP.
Det schweizisk baserede selskab, der formidler salget af gas i Ukraine, "RosUkrEnergo", har opkøbt kontrollen med de regionale gasselskaber i Ukraine og kontrollerer hermed 75% af den gas, som sælges i Ukraine. Det oplyser en af medejerne af "RosUkrEnergo", Dmyto Firtash, i et interview med den russiske avis "Vedomosti".
"Det er reelt ikke "Naftogaz Ukrajiny", men de regionale gasselskaber, der sælger gassen. "RosUkrEnergo" har været dygtig til at omstille sig i modsætning til "Itera" og Eural Trans Gas (de tidligere mellemmænd, der havde adgang til at sælge russisk gas i Ukraine)", oplyser Firtash.
På spørgsmålet om, hvad der vil ske med "RosUkrEnergo"s forretninger, hvis Gazprom og Naftogaz udelukker firmaet fra adgangen til leverancerne af gas til Ukraine og Europa, svarede Firtash:
"RosUkrEnergo" vil som minimum forblive på det ukrainske marked som et foretagende på distributionsmarkedet, og det er heller ikke givet, at firmet vil blive afskåret fra adgangen til eksporten". UP.
Den ukrainske hovedaktionærer i mellemhandlerselskabet RosUkrEnergo, Dmytro Firtash, udtaler 16. januar i et interview med den ukrainske Tv-station Inter, at de 11 milliarder kubikmeter af den gas, som i øjeblikket befinder sig i det statslige ukrainske olie-og gasselskab Naftohaz' gaslagre, tilhører RosUkrEnergo, mens de resterende 8 milliarder kubikmeter gas i gaslagrene tilhører RosUkrEnergos datterselskab UkrGazEnergo.
"Langt om længe er det lykkedes at få gassen ned i de underjordiske gaslagre. Og hvad er det så for en gas, vi har i disse lagre? Det kan jeg godt svare på - de 11 milliarder kubikmeter tilhører mig, mens de 8 milliarder kubikmeter tilhører mit datterselskab UkrGazEnergo", sagde Firtash.
"Og Naftogaz har ikke underskrevet noget dokument af den 1. november 2007 om, at denne gas er i selskabets regnskab", understregede forretningsmanden.
"Hov, hov, kære venner, hvad er det vi her taler om, og hvorfor snyde os selv? I har pumpet højst 12 milliarder kubikmeter gas ned i lagrene, hvoraf de 4 mia. er af egen udvinding. Resten af gassen kommer udefra", lød Firtash forarget. (RosUkrEnergo får gassen ved den russisk-turkmenske grænse og har eneretten til at sælge den videre i Ukraine, red.)
Vice-premierminister Oleksandr Turtjynov, som også var i studiet, kom med denne replik: "Jeg vil gerne komme med en oplysning til både hr. Firtash, men primært til Tv-seerne. Når De taler om RosUkrEnergo, så er det under 10 mia. kubikmeter tilbage af Deres gas. Det vil sige, at det indtil videre er Deres ".
"Hvad angår Naftohaz, så havde Naftohaz pr. 1. januar i år den største mængde gas i løbet de seneste år, nemlig 17 mia. kubikmeter eget gas (i lagrene, red.), og jeg understreger, at det var Naftohaz' egen gas. Og det er netop takket være denne gas, at vores land ikke er gået i stå", sagde Turtjynov. UP.
19.01.09. Usikkerhed om endelig gasaftale
Efter 11 dage med stop for leveringen af russisk gas via Ukraine til Europa regner Gazprom og den ukrainske modpart Naftohaz at underskrive en aftale om leveringen af russisk gas til Ukraine - en aftale som skulle genåbne de russiske gasleverancer til Europa. Den ukrainske premierminister Julia Tymoshenko forsikrede, at alle gasforsyningerne vil blive genetableret efter underskrivelsen af den russisk-ukrainske aftale.
Den ukrainske præsidents sekretariat har endnu ikke kommenteret den russisk-ukrainske gasaftale. Præsident Viktor Jusjtjenkos rådgiver i energisikkerhedsanliggender, Bohdan Sokolovskyj, sagde i søndags, at han ikke kan give en vurdering af aftalerne, så længe de ikke foreligger på skrift.
Hele søndagen blev der forhandlet i Gazproms hovedkvarter i Moskva med lederen af det ukrainske statslige selskab Naftohaz, Oleg Dubyna og den ukrainske energiminister Jurij Prodan. Det blev besluttet, at al gassamhandelen mellem de to lande fremover - dvs. fra den 1.1.09. - skal ske i overensstemmelse med den europæiske prisdannelsesformel. Ifølge denne formel vil Ukraine i 2009 få en rabat på 20%, men Rusland vil beholde den transitafgift, som landet betalte Ukraine i 2008.
En uge siden nævnte Gazproms officielle repræsentant Sergej Kuprijanov, at de europæiske lande betaler 470 US dollars for tusind kubikmeter gas fra Rusland. Hvis man trækker den 20% rabat, som Ukraine har fået, fra, så vil Ukraine skulle betale omkring 360-380 dollars for tusind kubikmeter. Det er mindre end de 450 dollars, som Gazproms bestyrelsesformand Aleksej Miller talte om for en uge siden, men væsentlig mere, end de 205 dollars, som den ukrainske præsident Jusjtjenko insisterede på under forhandlingerne.
Søndag sagde lederen af det største ukrainske oppositionsparti Viktor Janukovytj til Tv-stationen Inter, at en pris på over 250 dollars for tusind kubikmeter vil føre til et sammenbrud i Ukraines økonomi. "Hvis prisen på gas bliver mere end 250 dollars, vil det betyde, at forbrugeren skal betale langt over 300 dollars, og det er ensbetydende med økonomisk sammenbrud. Strana.ruEurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 10
Western media coverage of the latest Ukrainian-Russian
gas crisis has largely ignored the national identity component of the conflict,
and yet this is the main factor fueling poor relations between Ukraine and
Russia. Inter-elite corruption in the energy sector comes second to national
The corrupt and opaque intermediary RosUkrEnergo is only half controlled by Gazprom. Blame for energy corruption should therefore be distributed equally between the Russian and Ukrainian elites. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's claim that the gas crisis is a product of the "struggle of clans" in Ukraine is therefore only true up to a point as both the Ukrainian and Russian elites are enveloped in corruption (Ukrayinska Pravda, January 10). Gazprom has been at the heart of the gas intermediaries Eural Trans Gas and its replacement RosUkrEnergo. Putin's claims also ignore the consistent opposition to the use of intermediaries by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and her eponymous bloc. The October 2008 Tymoshenko-Putin memorandum signed in Moscow called for the removal of gas intermediaries. The Tymoshenko government and Naftohaz Ukrainy have blamed these intermediaries for the current crisis (Reuters, January 7).
Putin's allegations also ignore the influence of the corrupt gas lobby of the Party of Regions, which has had a cooperation agreement since 2005 with the Unified Russia party. Regions' gas lobby has taken over the financing of the party from oligarchs such as Renat Akhmetov, and sabotaged negotiations to establish a BYuT-Regions coalition in fall 2008 because of Tymoshenko's opposition to the role of intermediaries.
At the heart of the gas crisis are very poor relations between Ukraine and Russia that worsened following Russia's unsuccessful, high-profile intervention in the 2004 Ukrainian presidential elections. Russia has continued to intervene in Ukraine's domestic affairs by issuing passports and developing a new policy of "Russian Cards" for Ukrainians. The cards would be issued to Ukrainian citizens on the basis of their allegiance to Russian culture and language and would enable them to enter Russia without visas and have the same rights as Russian citizens, including access to free education (Ukrayinska Pravda, December 3, 2008). The implicit threat of such brazen intervention can be seen in the claim by a deputy head of the presidential secretariat Roman Besmertnyi that the gas crisis was planned by Russia to mobilize eastern Ukraine against Yushchenko (Ukrayinska Pravda, January 12).
To disguise the utter failure of Russia's intervention and its abject lack of understanding of Ukrainian domestic politics and nation-building, Moscow has continually held to a neo-Soviet version of the Orange Revolution, namely, that it was not the product of legitimate popular protest against electoral fraud and a decade of Leonid Kuchma's rule but was the outcome of an American conspiracy.
Viktor Yushchenko's election was therefore illegitimate because, in Russian eyes, he was imposed on the country by the "political technology" imported from the United States that had been developed earlier in Serbia's Bulldozer and Georgia's Rose Revolutions. Yushchenko's policies on seeking NATO membership, obtaining international recognition of the 1933 genocide famine, his refusal to extend the Black Sea Fleet lease, and "Ukrainization" have only served to confirm to Russia that he is acting at variance with the wishes of the Ukrainian narod.
Russia's view of Ukraine is built on deep-seated Russian conceptions of the "artificiality" of Ukraine. In the 1990s the Russian media portrayed Ukraine as a country artificially kept independent by corrupt elites, while the narod sought to re-unite with Russia. Russian leaders therefore continually raised the specter of Ukraine joining the Russian-Belarusian union.
A Novosti commentary (March 31, 2008) on the eve of the Bucharest NATO summit claimed, "In fact, present-day Ukraine is an artificial heir to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic, with borders appointed at the arbitrary will and volition of Soviet rulers." At the April 2008 NATO-Russia Council, Putin said to his American counterpart George Bush, "But George, don't you understand that Ukraine is not a state." Putin claimed that most of Ukraine's territory was a Russian gift in the 1950s and that if Ukraine joined NATO, Russia would detach eastern Ukraine and the Crimea, which would end Ukraine's existence as a state (Zerkalo Nedeli, April 24, 2008). In reality, the only region transferred from Russia to Ukraine was the Crimea in 1954, while numerous Ukrainian territories were transferred to Russia in the 1920s.
Russian attitudes to the Orange Revolution, Yushchenko, and Ukraine better explain the level of vitriol in the annual gas crisis. During a press conference at his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo on January 8, Putin said, 'The Ukrainian leadership is unable to organize a normal, transparent functioning economy based on market principals." He went even further, alleging that, "we are witnessing a political collapse in Ukraine." In effect, Putin placed Yushchenko in the same "illegitimate" category as Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, with whom the Russian leadership has refused to deal since the 2008 Georgian-Russian war (Russia Today, January 8).
Another national identity aspect to the gas crisis relates to Moscow's unwillingness to accept the post-Soviet status quo. Russia recognized Ukraine's borders and its inheritance of the gas pipelines de jure but has never accepted them de facto. It is galling to Moscow that Ukrainian pipelines control 80 percent of Russia's gas exports which are central to Russia's policies to revive its great-power status (Ukrayinska Pravda, January 10).
It is in this area that Russia's inability to understand Ukrainian domestic politics is again evident. Russia will never find a politician in Ukraine who would be "pro-Russian" enough, while no Ukrainian parliament will ever vote to privatize the pipelines. In February 2007 Tymoshenko mobilized 420 parliamentary votes, including those of most Regions deputies, to prevent privatization. Tymoshenko has supported a strong line during the crisis and demanded reciprocity from Russia, permitting EU observers into Ukraine only if Moscow allowed them to enter Russia (Ukrayinska Pravda, January 9).
A deputy head of the presidential secretariat Andriy Honcharuk called for a toning down of Russian rhetoric and a "dialogue among equals" (Ukrayinska Pravda, January 12). As the failed Belarusian-Russian union shows, Honcharuk was whistling in the wind.
20.01.09. Ukrainian law bars transferring ownership of the gas transit systemEurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 9
By: Vladimir Socor
Gaining some form of control over Ukraine's state-owned gas transit system
has been a constant objective of Russian policy since the 1990s. That
30-year-old system's worn-out condition, its mismanagement, and the insolvency
of its operator Naftohaz Ukrainy are providing Gazprom with a wide opening to
gain control under the guise of investing in the system's modernization. Moscow
has sought to achieve its goal through a Gazprom-dominated international
consortium but has not succeeded in creating such a consortium thus far (see
article above), nor has it persuaded Ukraine to share the country's single most
important economic asset with Russia.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin and Gazprom are nevertheless milking Naftohaz and underpaying for the use of Ukraine's transit system through the shadowy intermediary companies RosUkrEnergo and UkrGaz-Energo, which are driving Naftohaz and the transit system into bankruptcy, precluding its modernization, and facilitating its ultimate de facto takeover by Gazprom under some flag of convenience. Ukraine's political system has tolerated these arrangements, indeed allowing those two companies to network with elements in the Party of Regions and around the president.
Nevertheless, the Ukrainian political system has reacted sharply whenever Moscow has attempted overtly to gain control of the gas transit system. One such attempt in 2007 prompted Ukraine to pass strong blocking legislation, which now stands in the way of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's latest proposal to create a Russo-German or international consortium to operate the gas transit system on Ukrainian territory (www.premier.gov.ru, January 8; Interfax, January 7, 8, 11; German ARD TV, January 11; Nezavisimaya Gazeta, January 13).
As President of Russia in 2007, Putin called for "unifying" Ukraine's gas transit system with Russia's through some common entity, which he did not publicly specify. In return he offered Ukrainian "access" to oil and gas extraction projects on Russian territory, also unspecified. The proposal was meant as a basis for negotiations ahead of a Russian-Ukrainian presidential meeting. Putin claimed that Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and the government, headed by Viktor Yanukovych at that time, favored such a trade-off and had even initiated the proposal.
Putin's proposal on February 1, 2007, backfired instantly and powerfully in Ukraine. Opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko initiated and the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) adopted a law on February 6 that prohibits any form of a legal change of ownership of Naftohaz Ukrainy's assets. It rules out any deals that would involve the sale, transfer, merger, concession, lease, collateralization, entry into joint venture, joint or trust management, mortgaging, or any change in the status of ownership or control of Ukraine's gas transit system and other Naftohaz assets. The law also stipulates that Naftohaz may not be declared bankrupt, an ultimate safeguard against Russian debt collection through the takeover of assets. The law would only allow transfer of Naftohaz assets hypothetically to an entity that would be 100 percent Ukrainian state-owned.
The 2007 law expanded on previous legislation and closed all avenues for parting with these Ukrainian assets. Kyiv's proponents of such transactions were forced on the defensive by Putin's crude indiscretion and Tymoshenko's initiative. The political atmosphere made it impossible even for Gazprom-friendly deputies to stop the passage of the law. It garnered 430 votes, with none opposed, in the 450-seat Verkhovna Rada (www.kremlin.ru , February 1, 2007; Interfax-Ukraine, UNIAN, February 3-6, 2007; see EDM, February 7, 2007).
That law gave Ukraine breathing space to involve the European Union (not just
Gazprom with a German fig leaf) in the needed modernization of Ukraine's gas
transit system, in the EU's own interest. The EU and Ukraine equally failed,
however, to use that breathing space. The context in January 2009 is markedly
different. Russia has created a supply crisis preparatory to reactivating the
consortium scheme and has not even asked for Ukraine's opinion. Instead, Moscow
assails Ukraine as "thieving" and "criminal" and accuses Washington of
orchestrating Ukraine's behavior. Meanwhile the United States is hobbled by its
interregnum. All parties are forced to consider Moscow's proposal under time
pressure in mid-winter and amid a deepening economic recession.
Germany is the primary target audience of Putin's proposal. Klaus Mangold, chairman of the powerful East Commission of German Business (Ostausschuss der Deutschen Wirtschaft, representing companies with interests in Russia) has endorsed Putin's proposal in principle. Economics Minister Michael Glos (Christian Social Union), a long-time believer in Russia's "reliability" as an energy supplier, regards the proposal as "worth considering" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, January 14).
These initial reactions stop short of addressing the decisive point: Would the proposed consortium be dominated by Gazprom or be genuinely European? As some German commentators note, the issue is a vital one for the EU and can only be addressed successfully with the EU's direct participation (Financial Times Deutschland, January 14).
The European Commission plans to hold a donors' meeting in Brussels in March on financing the modernization of Ukraine's gas transit system and internationalizing operational control. The consortium issue will probably come up for consideration there. In that context, the EU is expected to ask Ukraine to change the 2007 law, which provides safeguards against Gazprom. That step would be worth taking to enable genuine European oversight, investment, modernization, and part-ownership of Ukraine's gas transit system, as opposed to placing Gazprom in the driver's seat.
Selskabet RosUkrEnergo truer nu med at indlede en retssag i Schweiz, såfremt den ukrainske regering bemægtiger sig den gas, som RosUkrEnergo råder over i de underjordiske gaslagre i Ukraine, meddeler bestyrelsesformanden i RosUkrEnergo, Lars Hausmann, i et brev til lederen af det statslige ukrainske olie-og gasselskab "Naftogaz", Oleg Dubyna.
I et brev, som internetavisen Ukrajinska Pravda er kommet i besiddelse af, meddeler Hausmann, at selskabet ikke har solgt den gas, det råder over, og som befinder sig i Ukraines underjordiske lagre.
"Jeg skal hermed officielt informere dem om, at aktionærerne ikke har truffet nogen beslutning desangående. Bestyrelsen har heller ikke truffet nogen beslutning desangående. Bestyrelsen har ikke givet RosUkrEnergos direktion nogen beføjelser til at indgå sådanne kontrakter", skriver Hausmann.
RosUkrEnergos direktion har ikke indgået en eneste kontrakt om salget af denne gas", tilføjer han.
"Derfor vil enhver form for beslaglæggelse eller forbud mod gassens bevægelse, der er i strid med kontrakt nr. 14/395-2/04 og nr. 14/395-3/04, som vore selskaber indgik den 29.07.2004, føre til en alvorlig lovovertrædelse, som vil gøre os nødsaget til at skride til juridiske og strafferetslige procedurer i overensstemmelse med Den schweiziske Konfederations lovgivning for at forsvare RosUkrEnergos forretningsinteresser".
Et tilsvarende brev fra RosUkrEnergos bestyrelse er sendt til lederen af det ukrainske toldvæsen, Valerij Khoroshkovskyj.
Som det tidligere er oplyst, så havde Naftogaz i Moskva opkøbt 11 mia. kubikmeter gas til en favorabel pris på 153,9 dollars for tusind kubikmeter. Gazprom var gået med til at give Naftogaz en forudbetaling for transitten af gassen. Penge, som Naftogaz skulle betale Gazprom for RosUkrEnergos gas.
Ifølge Ukrajinska Pravdas oplysninger er aftalen, hvori RosUkrEnergo giver afkald på selskabets gas i de ukrainske gaslagre, underskrevet på vegne af RosUkrEnergo af Mykola Dubyk, der er administrerende direktør i RosUkrEnergo og samtidig vice-chef for Gazproms juridiske departement.
I henhold til RosUkrEnergos vedtægter kan den slags beslutninger kun anses for at være lovlige, når de bliver underskrevet af to administrerende direktører - en på vegne af Gazprom (Mykola Dubyk) og en på vegne af RosUkrEnergos reelle ejer, Firtash (Dmytro Glebko). UP.
01.02.09. Gas issue points to Ukraine's failures; nation weakened by dispute with Russia, many say
By Philip P. Pan
In the heady months following the Orange Revolution, after the crowds had swept the democratic opposition into power but before the hopes inspired by the movement had begun to fade, Ukraine's new, American-backed leaders decided to renegotiate the terms on which the country purchased natural gas from Russia.
Concessions made three years ago -- under suspicious circumstances, some say -- sharply reduced Ukraine's leverage against Russia in this month's crisis. More broadly, according to a wide spectrum of political figures, journalists, diplomats and analysts, the Orange Revolution's failure to eliminate the corrupting influence of cheap Russian gas poisoned Ukraine's transition to democratic politics, tarnishing its reputation abroad and leaving much of the public here disillusioned.
"There are no reformers left," said Alexander Dubinsky, a business journalist for the Ekonomicheskie Izvestia newspaper. "After a reformer gains power, he becomes corrupt, too. That's what people think now."
In explaining the importance of access to Russian gas in Ukrainian politics, he added: "All the big money here was made in gas. If you control the gas, you can control industries, you can control politicians."
Russia said it would grant a 20% discount to Ukraine on European gas prices this year, while Ukraine agreed not to raise the low fee it charges Russia to use its pipelines to deliver gas to Europe. Tymoshenko was scheduled to return to Moscow on Monday to sign the contract, but the details, which have derailed previous deals, were still being worked out.
Many in Ukraine and the West have seen it as an attempt by Russia to assert its influence in the region and weaken the pro-Western government of a neighbor, a sort of non-violent sequel to its August war against Georgia.
The political disarray has played into the Kremlin's efforts to portray Ukraine to the world as a failed state, unfit for membership in NATO and the European Union, and to convince the Russian people of the superiority of Putin's more authoritarian model of government.
The Orange Revolution raised hopes for reform, with the government launching an investigation into the gas sector.
But in September 2005, Yushchenko dismissed Tymoshenko as prime minister, and in January 2006, after a brief standoff, Ukraine and Russia struck a new gas deal. Yushchenko hailed the contract as a victory because it allowed Ukraine to continue receiving gas at subsidized prices for another year. In exchange, Ukraine agreed to charge Russia a low fee to use its pipelines.
It soon became public, however, that the contract allowed Russia to increase gas prices every year but fixed Ukraine's transit fee for five years, a condition that severely weakened its negotiating position this month.
"It was a huge opportunity lost," said Edward Chow, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, who argues that Ukraine's failure to reform its gas sector continues to "destroy public trust in its politics, and undermine the interests of its European neighbors."
The gas deal came under attack in the newly assertive Ukrainian press. Yushchenko stood by it while his allies accused its most prominent critic, Tymoshenko, of being upset because her own attempts to profit on the deal had been thwarted. No investigation ever sorted through the competing accusations.
Igor Burakovsky, director of the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting in Kyiv, said the situation is typical of Ukraine's incomplete democratic transition. There is free speech and wide access to information, he said, but fervent debate rarely leads to action because of the weakness of the courts and other institutions.
In 2007, the state energy firm, Naftogaz, tried to determine what it should be charging Russia to use its pipelines. Yuri Vitrenko, the economist who supervised the analysis, concluded Ukraine was getting paid much less than it cost to operate the pipelines and recommended a sharp increase. But the government responded by asking him to justify the lower fee. "They just wanted to keep the old deal," he said.
Yushchenko's failure to bring corruption under control has contributed to a precipitous drop in his approval ratings, from highs near 75% after the Orange Revolution to less than 5% now.
Tymoshenko, who was appointed prime minister again in late 2007 and is expected to challenge Yushchenko for the presidency this year, told reporters last week that Ukrainian politicians derailed a December deal because she had insisted on cutting out RosUkrEnergo. She did not accuse Yushchenko directly, but only the president would have the power to overrule her.
An official in the president's office fired back Friday, accusing Tymoshenko of being "hooked by Russian special services" and recalling that she made a fortune in the 1990s as chief of a gas trading firm that was investigated for criminal activity.
"We think it was a crime," Hryhoriy Nemyria, one of her deputy prime ministers, said of the 2006 gas contract. "It basically created a situation of strategic vulnerability for Ukraine."
01.02.09. The gas war may rehabilitate Ukraine's Yushchenko
Here's a chance for the beleaguered president to restore some luster to his faded image by reassuming the role of a unifier and statesman.
By Adrian Karatnycky
The bitter energy dispute between Ukraine and Russia has been resolved in a comprehensive agreement that Kyiv and Moscow signed yesterday -- though there have been several false starts over the past three weeks. But if this latest pact holds, then by all accounts it is Russia that blinked first. While Ukraine's leaders will not crow about their success, Ukraine has pretty much gotten what it wanted: below-market rates for its own 2009 gas purchases. Ukraine's leaders also made it abundantly clear that they were not some unimportant factor in Russia-European gas trade. They showed that their gas pipeline system is critical to the continental gas transit system.
Almost four years ago, Viktor Yushchenko was elected Ukraine's president and widely hailed as the hero of the nonviolent mass civic protests known as the Orange Revolution. Today he is a leader who has lost the support of most Ukrainians; his approval ratings have fallen from well over 60% during the Orange Revolution to less than 5% now. [...]
As Mr. Yushchenko's political star has waned, that of Ms. Tymoshenko, his erstwhile Orange Revolution partner, is ascendant. Still, with Ukraine's economy already in free fall, Ms. Tymoshenko's recent success in withstanding the president's attempt to remove her as prime minister may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory and she, too, may see a steep drop in public support. [...]
Ms. Tymoshenko, also on scant evidence, accused the president and the head of the Central Bank of conspiring to bring down the value of the national currency, the hryvnia, and of providing liquidity to a bank allegedly associated with a pro-Yushchenko businessman. These actions, she claimed, enabled the businessman to profit from the currency's decline.
It's no wonder, then, that Ukraine's toxic political atmosphere represented a tantalizing opportunity for Russia to exploit internal divisions. Vladimir Putin has never accepted Ukraine's pro-Western tilt since the Orange Revolution. By provoking internal and international anxieties, the Kremlin sought to promote a change at the top in Ukraine and to reassert its influence in a fellow Slavic country in its geopolitical backyard.
But Russia appears to have miscalculated. First, its efforts to blame Ukraine alone for the gas cutoff were rejected by Europe, which understood that Russia played an important part in provoking and prolonging the crisis. As important, Ukraine had wisely stockpiled several months of gas reserves and proved able to withstand Moscow's pressure to settle on unfavorable terms during the harsh winter months.
Now Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has agreed with Ms. Tymoshenko that Russia will sell gas to Ukraine at a 20% discount to European market rates, in return for below-market transit fees. European market prices for gas in 2009 are expected to be no more than $250 per thousand cubic meters amid the global downturn -- a significant increase over what Ukraine paid in 2008, but far less than Russia had been demanding.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the gas dispute with Russia has unified Ukraine's pro-Western leaders. [...]
As a result, the gas crisis has created a new chance for the beleaguered President Yushchenko to restore some luster to his faded image by reassuming the role of a unifier and statesman. Even with his support slipping and his chances for re-election slight, Mr. Yushchenko has an opportunity to vindicate his term in office. This is because Ukraine's presidency has significant powers, including veto power, control over security and defense forces, and the right to appoint key local and regional officials. In recent months Mr. Yushchenko has used these powers primarily to thwart and undermine Ms. Tymoshenko. If he redirects his energies to constructive dialogue, he can help promote sound fiscal policy and accelerate privatization efforts which the political deadlock had blocked.
He is well-equipped for such a role. As a banker and economist by profession, Mr. Yushchenko has a strong sense of rational economic policy. He can also act as an important, constructive counterweight to the occasional populism of Prime Minister Tymoshenko.
By building on their cooperation and success during the gas crisis, the two leaders can at long last stumble into creating a tandem that can help restore some confidence domestically and abroad in Ukraine's ability to cope with major crises and to get things done.
February 6, 2009
KYIV -- Ukraine's prime minister survived a no-confidence vote in parliament, but a deepening economic slump and political bickering spell trouble for the country's Western-leaning leaders.
The move by pro-Russian factions to undermine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko came as she and her onetime ally, President Viktor Yushchenko, have seen their images dented by personal rivalry.[...]
The disarray threatens Western hopes that this nation - geographically slightly smaller than the state of Texas - on Russia's border could become a beachhead for democratic values in the former Soviet Union.
Diplomats say Mr. Yushchenko and Ms. Tymoshenko have all but given up governing, and their rivalry is jeopardizing Ukraine's ability to meet criteria of the International Monetary Fund, which extended to Ukraine a $16.5 billion rescue package last year.[...]
Ukraine has been hit hard by the economic crisis and the collapse in prices of metals and fertilizers, its main exports. Ukraine's industrial production fell by 26% in December from a year earlier and its currency has lost a third of its value since the summer.
Moscow has been using the economic crisis to strengthen its hand in the region, and last month forced Ukraine to agree to sharply higher prices for natural gas after a standoff in which it cut off shipments. The increased cost to Ukraine's gas-hungry industries is expected to pummel the economy further.
Mr. Yushchenko and Ms. Tymoshenko have often feuded since the so-called Orange Revolution that swept them to power in 2004, and the approach of presidential elections has worsened matters.[...]
The leaders managed to cobble together enough legislation to secure the help of the IMF, but Ukrainian debt trades at default levels amid fears government spending is out of control.
An IMF mission has been in Kyiv for the past two weeks to determine whether to release the second tranche of its loan. IMF officials have made no statements on the government's plans.
Mr. Yushchenko's approval ratings have crept to the low single digits in recent months. Ms. Tymoshenko's ratings, though higher, are also softening amid signs voters want new faces.
Former parliament speaker Arseny Yatsenyuk, 34 years old, saw his ratings rise after he was sacked by parliament in November, and has been taking support from both Mr. Yushchenko and Ms. Tymoshenko.
The fracture of the government has also benefited a figure who has been mostly locked out of power in recent years -- Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian candidate in the 2004 vote that sparked the Orange Revolution.
Mr. Yanukovych, who pushed for the no-confidence vote, has predicted that this year marks Ukraine's "last Orange winter."
February 9, 200
By Alan Cullison
The International Monetary Fund is likely to suspend loan payments to Ukraine, a move that would further push the government toward Moscow for aid and exacerbate a feud between top leaders in Kiev.
Ukraine is failing to meet the terms of its loan deal with the IMF, and likely won't get the next installment this month, according to a person close to talks between the fund and the government in Kiev.
Faced with a cash shortage, Kiev is passing the hat around to global powers. Talks were held in Moscow last week over a $5 billion loan to help plug Ukraine's budget deficit.
Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said her government also sent letters to the U.S., European Union, China and Japan, and that "Russia is ready to help with the credit agreement's signing."
President Viktor Yushchenko criticized the talks with Moscow. "It's a dangerous policy and poses a threat to Ukraine's national interests," he said.
The U.S. State Department said it was looking into reports of Ukraine's request for aid.
Ukraine has been hit by falling prices of metals and fertilizers, its main exports. Infighting between Mr. Yushchenko and Ms. Tymoshenko has led to a policy deadlock.
The deficit has been a sticking point in talks with the IMF on the release of the second installment of a $16.4 billion loan that it agreed to extend to Ukraine last year. The IMF released the first $4.5 billion tranche in November and had made further disbursements contingent on Ukraine reducing the budget shortfall and making progress on bank restructuring.25.02.09. Viktor Yushchenko: Consumers of Russian gas must show a united front
February 17, 2009
By Viktor Yushchenko
For those of us who lived under the Soviet Union, there is a certain irony about energy supplies. We may have been in a Cold War with the West, but Soviet gas always flowed uninterrupted across the Iron Curtain. Nowadays, thankfully, the Soviet Union is no more -- and yet Russian gas has become a strategic weapon. Those of us who are net importers cannot help but wonder: Is Moscow saying that gas supplies will be a problem unless it can have its sphere of influence once again?
So long as those countries which rely on Russian gas are divided, we put ourselves in a dependent position. Since 2006, though, alarm bells on the gas issue have been largely ignored. Of course Russia deserves a fair price for the exploitation of its natural resources, but the relationship needs to be rebalanced. The politics need to be taken out of the equation and a more normal commercial relationship established.
Whether Moscow is motivated by political concerns or simply a desire to increase the return on its assets, it is in the interests of all importing countries to coordinate our response. Only by cooperating can we maximize our collective bargaining power and secure our individual national interests.
As significant net importers of energy, Ukraine and the European Union have a clear common interest. Energy security for Ukraine, a major transit country, is also the best guarantee of energy security for our European neighbors. The energy security of the wider European space is therefore indivisible.
A strong response to the challenge we face must have at least three elements: liberalization, diversification and conservation.
By 2030, the International Energy Agency predicts, European gas imports will double because Europe won't be able to supply its own energy needs. Much of the extra supply could come from Russia if the necessary investment is made in new production. But unless action is taken now, importers could be in a very vulnerable position.
Liberalizing its energy industry would be in Russia's own best interests. But it will probably resist appeals to do so until the European Union leads by example: encouraging network operators to invest in interconnectors to build the energy grid and pipeline networks of the future, thereby reducing the risk of one customer being played off against another. Energy independence will come through energy interdependence. We all need international trade in energy to be open, transparent and competitive.
The current economic crisis is causing considerable suffering for both households and businesses. This situation provides an added incentive to solve the problem that arises from all of us, Ukrainians as much as our European friends, being at the mercy of a self-interested monopolist.
Working together, we can secure our mutual interests -- and, in the long term, reduce unnecessary friction with Russia. A single, competitive gas market would help depoliticize the EU-Russia gas relationship, with major foreign-policy benefits for Europe. It would also improve the security of supply for all European gas consumers.
The European Energy Community is the obvious building block for this approach, but its scope needs to extend beyond market liberalization and include more proactive and practical forms of cooperation. For our part, Ukraine is determined to reform our gas sector to encourage investment, increase efficiency by upgrading the pipeline infrastructure to minimize energy loss in transmission, and create a modern EU-compatible energy sector. The EU can further those aims by helping transit countries like Ukraine to reduce reliance on Russian gas, and hence vulnerability to energy blackmail.
One way to reduce reliance on Russia, and an important part of the policy package for any country planning for the long term, is diversification. In Ukraine's case, for example, our untapped Black Sea gas reserves needed to be quantified and exploited with European cooperation. But putting all of our faith in gas is not the answer: The emphasis should be on cleaner technologies. All of us in the European neighborhood can learn from each other to increase the proportion of renewable sources in the energy mix. In other words, limiting global warming and improving our energy security can go hand in hand.
Short-term deals between Moscow and any country, including Ukraine, are no substitute for this kind of comprehensive energy security strategy. Some of the measures will take time to implement, and so it is essential that the Transit Protocol of the legally binding Energy Charter Treaty is concluded as soon as possible. Agreement and ratification would reassure investors in the pipeline network that transit would occur, and our European neighbors that gas will be delivered.
Action, not further debate, is needed. The EU in particular has the capacity to change the entire dynamic of energy relations across Eurasia. But first it must unite and lead.
Across Europe, the pace of energy reform needs to be increased. Equally, we all need to be more forthright in reacting to the use of energy as a tool of foreign policy. Ending divisions in the European house is the only way to assure energy security for our citizens and industries for the decades to come.
European solidarity can bring warm homes -- and warmer relations with Russia.
Mr. Yushchenko is president of Ukraine.
February 11 2009
Mr Viacheslav Kniazhnytskyi
Counsellor on Energy Issues,
Mission of Ukraine to the European Union
Sir, Last month Gazprom launched a massive and aggressive misinformation campaign against Ukraine. After the conclusion of the Ukraine-Russia gas deal, I had hoped that this propaganda war was over. Therefore I was surprised to read in your newspaper ("Russia denies Ukraine gas system move
<http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c4dc11f0-f230-11dd-9678-0000779fd2ac.html> February 4) groundless allegations about Ukraine's gas transport system (GTS).
Surely, Vladimir Chizhov, the Russian ambassador to the European Union, was aware of the European Commission's Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States programme conclusions, published in 2007, that the Ukrainian GTS was in a satisfactory technical condition? Surely, Mr Chizhov was aware of the official data of the Russian and Ukrainian ministries of emergencies: while Ukraine had three accidents in its transit pipeline network, the biggest in Europe, in 2006 and one in 2007, Russia had 37 in 2006 and 43 in 2007. Is Mr Chizhov really in any position to make expert statements on Ukrainian GTS reliability?
My point is that Ukraine is conscious that its GTS, like any other continental infrastructure facility, needs ongoing modernisation. To this end we are investing our own resources as well as co-operating with interested parties to ensure upgrading of our GTS and improve its security. On March 23 we will host a special investment conference in Brussels devoted to this topic.
The recent crisis proved that our security and efficiency systems were reliable and operational. Moreover, its operation in the crisis environment revealed additional potential in terms of its sustainability.
By cutting gas off and attempting to place Ukrainian operators in breach of operational procedures, Gazprom committed an act of technological aggression. Its ploy did not work because Ukraine has modernised the system and was able to continue operating.
Europe needs co-operation, not accusations.
Eurasian Daily Monitor
February 18, 2009
Volume 6, Issue 32
On January 27 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
issued another damning report about the poor state of Ukraine's
investigation into the murder of opposition journalist Georgi Gongadze in
the fall of 2000 (www.assembly.coe.int).
The involvement of senior Ukrainian leaders in the murder was made public
using tape recordings made in President Leonid Kuchma's office by
presidential guard Mykola Melnychenko, who sought asylum in the United
States in April 2001.
Four years after the Orange Revolution and Viktor Yushchenko's promise to investigate the Gongadze murder, there has been little progress in the inquiry. Three lower-ranking policemen have been sentenced for their involvement in the murder, but the organizers have managed to escape justice thus far: Leonid Kuchma remains in Kyiv, then-Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko allegedly "committed suicide" under suspicious circumstances in March 2005, and General Olexiy Pukach, who is alleged to have actually murdered Gongadze, supposedly fled Ukraine in 2004. Gongadze's wife, Myroslava, accused senior Interior Ministry officers of hiding Pukach in a similar manner to that of Ratko Mladic, a Serbian war criminal.
Melnychenko's recordings, which are crucial to any investigation, were
ignored by the prosecutor until December 2008, when the tapes and tape
recorder were handed over to the Prosecutor's Office, which agreed to
organize the first analysis of the tapes by an impartial European
It is no coincidence that after four years of inactivity the Prosecutor's Office, which is constitutionally under the control of the president, has only now become interested in the Melnychenko tapes. Ukraine will hold presidential elections in December, and progress in the Gongadze murder case could help Yushchenko improve his current dismal 2.4 percent popularity rating (Democratic Initiatives, January 2009 poll [www.dif.org.ua]).
Three key individuals in the investigation have refused to give voice samples for comparison to those on the tapes: Kuchma, Volodymyr Lytvyn (head of the presidential administration during the Gongadze scandal), and the chairman of the Security Service at the time, Leonid Derkach. Lytvyn, as speaker of parliament, is the only one of the three who is still a public figure.
Melnychenko suggested that Yushchenko should set an example by voluntarily giving a voice sample: "If Yushchenko states that this affair is a matter of his honor, then he is obliged as a Ukrainian citizen to come forth and set an example and give evidence" (Radio Svoboda, January 29). The PACE report demanded that the identity of the voices on the tapes be ascertained.
In a visit to Ukraine last month, Melnychenko said that the European analysis of his tapes not only would reveal information about the organizers of the Gongadze murder but would allegedly include details about high-level abuse of office by Ukraine's elites and interaction with their Russian counterparts.
Melnychenko directs much of his criticism at Lytvyn as the agitator who persuaded Kuchma to order the Interior Ministry to "deal" with Gongadze. Any undermining of Lytvyn could potentially unravel the Orange coalition that was reestablished in December only after the Lytvyn bloc had agreed to join. Without the Lytvyn bloc's 20 deputies, there could not be an Orange coalition, and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's government could collapse.
A full analysis of the tapes could be problematical for more people than Lytvyn; after all, the majority of Orange leaders (including Yushchenko and Tymoshenko) were either in government or in business, or both, in the 1990s. Melnychenko's recordings were made in 1999 and 2000 after Tymoshenko had entered parliament in the opposition Hromada but before Yushchenko joined in 2001.
Melnychenko has accused Lytvyn of being protected by Russia in a deal struck in the last days of the Kuchma regime. On January 12 the Russian Prosecutor's Office declined to assist in the investigation because it would infringe on Russia's "national interests."
Melnychenko asserts that "the organizers met and required certain assistance from senior levels of the Russian authorities." Whether this indicates that the Gongadze affair was a "Russian conspiracy," as Yushchenko and his national democratic allies have always believed, or (more likely) that the organizers sought Russian support after the crisis began unfolding remains unclear. Kuchma re-orientated Ukraine to Russia from 2001 to 2003 after becoming isolated and shunned by the West.
Melnychenko claims that Russia's knowledge of the real details of the Gongadze murder enables it to "blackmail Lytvyn and Kuchma's entourage," something that is more in Russia's national interests than assisting the investigation. In a BBC Ukrainian service interview (February 2), Melnychenko said that as a presidential candidate, "Lytvyn is supported by Russia in the form of Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin, and FSB Director Oleksandr Bortnikov."
It is very likely that blackmail materials on Kuchma and Lytvyn are in Russian hands (as are similar materials about Russian leaders in Kyiv). Ukrainian and Russian elites, particularly in the energy sector, are said to have operated as a criminal joint venture during the "Wild West capitalism" of the 1990s. With such blackmail materials, Russia may indeed hope that it would be in a position to manipulate a future "President Lytvyn."
Opinion polls show, however, that this scheme would be farfetched: the two top presidential candidates have long been Tymoshenko and Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych (on whom the Russian leadership might also have blackmail material, as Yanukovych was Donetsk Governor during the "Wild West" of the 1990s). Lytvyn is both trailing and is being out-flanked by the rising star of former speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
The PACE report and Melnychenko's accusations continue to shed light on an episode that is one of the most important in recent Ukrainian history and remains a black spot on Yushchenko's presidency. As Melnychenko rightly states, "The result we received [from the Kuchmagate crisis] in 2004 was in the form of the Orange Revolution" (Radio Svoboda, January 29). Other young democracies have managed to investigate similar conspiracies--Peru under Alberto Fujimori and contemporary Turkey--but the Gongadze affair continues to elude a thorough investigation by Orange Ukraine.
Recently premiered WWII film in Moscow reveals the truth on the deleterious state of confusion and panic surrounding the Eastern Front events until the 1943 reversal of fortunes at Stalingrad. Initially, the 22 June attack on the USSR by the Third Reich was met with the mass surrender of the Red Army divisions resulting in the Wehrmacht reachiing Moscow suburbs by the summer of 1942. Hitler, however, had miscalculated the apparent Blitz success as omnipotence in conquering the USSR by his own might disregarding the psychological factor accounting for the millions who gave up the fight readily in defiance of the oppressive Stalin regime. Hitler paid dearly for his cruel and inhumane treatment of the Red Army capitulants as the resistance had eventually stiffened substantially granting Stalin time to regroup with the ultimate satisfaction of being in position to claim victory through the unwitting assistance of his nemesis, Hitler.
The film plot presentation is comprized of a fictional battle commanded by Gen. Georgi ZHukov -- in a semi-documentary forrmat -- portrayed in realistic colors by invoking tactics intrinsic to the noted WWII general in the typical to him manner. The irony and novelty in the film production springs out of the fact that the "fictional battle" employs the nonfictional Zhukov style which in official documrmentaries is absent through censoring out and embellishing the "politically compromising and bereft of the glorified heroism" contents. As an example, the favorite tactic [very well known anedcdotally] of Gen Zhukov was to command the foot soldiers to fan ahead of his advancing armored column for creatingÂ a safe path across the suspected minefield.
Numerous episodes in the film are used as a testimonial to the horrifyingly chaotic conduct of the Red Army units in the defense against the German Blitz on the Eastern Front.where both the foe and the friend were facing the intolerable elements of fall mud and winter freeze.in addition to the man-to-man cruelties. With the battle conditions stripped of their heroic encounter weneer, the Great Patriotic War [GPW] combatants faced the odds of survival with the tenacity equal to that of any UPA unit.Â That they both might have been blood brothers -- yet fighting for distinctly different causes -- it did not overtly enter into the picture until the present time. The cited film is making it a point to underscore that Bandera and his circle wereÂ not spared a multi-year detention in a German concentration camp while the UPA action was taking place, thus,.confirming the contention that the struggle was being waged on both fronts.
Further research points to the battle in question -- known as the Battle of Rzev -- actually took place near the end of 1942 preparatory to the planned decisive push at Stalingrad in March of 1943. Evidently at the Rzev Battle the Red Army forces under the command of Gen. Zhukov sustained a thorough drubbing from the battle-weary Wehrmacht divisions. Quite naturally, the defeat facts remained squelched at the time by the USSR authorities. Even the collapse of the USSR failed to remove completely the secrecy veil with the objective of maintaining the invincibility myth of the Great Patriotic War.
Ultimately it took the courage of the film producers to put the past in an undistorted light by presenting the battle sans political or any other shading of the facts. It is that principle that led the creative circle of Russian film-makers to hint that the OUN-UPA cannot be stripped of its historic legacy by merely monopolizing on the Great Patriotic War myth.30.03.09. A new view of a famine that killed millions
March 16, 2009
KYIV, Ukraine: A quarter century ago, a Ukrainian historian named Stanislav Kulchytsky was told by his Soviet overlords to concoct an insidious cover-up. His orders: to depict the famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the early 1930s as unavoidable, like a natural disaster. Absolve the Communist Party of blame. Uphold the legacy of Stalin.
Professor Kulchytsky, though, would not go along.
The other day, as he stood before a new memorial to the victims of the famine, he recalled his decision as one turning point in a movement lasting decades to unearth the truth about that period. And the memorial itself, shaped like a towering candle with a golden eternal flame, seemed to him in some sense a culmination of this effort.
"It is a sign of our respect for the past," Professor Kulchytsky said. "Because everyone was silent about the famine for many years. And when it became possible to talk about it, nothing was said. Three generations on."
In the Soviet Union, the authorities all but banned discussion of the famine, but by the 1980s the United States and other countries were pressing their own inquiries, often at the urging of Ukrainian immigrants.
In response, Communist officials embarked on a propaganda drive to play down the famine and show that the deaths were caused by unforeseen food shortages or drought. Professor Kulchytsky said he had been given the task of gathering research but concluded that the famine had been man-made.
Professor Kulchytsky said it was undeniable that people all over the Soviet Union died from hunger in 1932 and 1933 as the Communists waged war on the peasantry to create farming collectives. But he contended that in Ukraine the authorities went much further, essentially quarantining and starving many villages.
"If in other regions, people were hungry and died from famine, then here people were killed by hunger," Professor Kulchytsky said. "That is the absolute difference."
Last month, Russian historians and archivists sought to bolster the Kremlin's case, issuing a DVD and a book of historical documents that they said demonstrated that the famine was not directed at Ukraine. Many of the documents were translated into English, underscoring how the two countries are waging their fight on an international stage.
Professor Kulchytsky said the Kremlin feared that if it conceded the truth, Russia, considered the successor to the Soviet Union, could face claims for reparations. ...
30.03.09. How the West turned from Kyiv
March 21, 2009
Just five years ago Ukraine was the toast of pro-democracy politicians the world over. The Orange Revolution seemed to be the next strand of the thread going back to the 1989 Velvet and other peaceful European transitions. Despite the bullying of Moscow, the Ukrainians stood their ground and said they wanted to become another Euro-Atlantic nation.
But now, like parents with a sulky, wayward child who just won't grow up, the world's democracies are turning their back on Ukraine. U.S. President Barack Obama will clink glasses with Russian and European leaders in London, Strasbourg and Prague and drop in to say hello to Turkey. But Ukraine, Turkey's Black Sea neighbor, is off his radar. Silvio Berlusconi openly supports Russia every time there is a dispute over gas. Angela Merkel used to visit Ukraine regularly and hold annual Berlin-Kyiv summits, but now she ignores the country. Russia's ambassador to NATO, the ultranationalist Dmitry Rogozin, boasted to France's Nouvel Observateur that French President Nicolas Sarkozy "opposed America's desire to see Ukraine join the Atlantic alliance," adding that the French president was "Moscow's ally in Europe." That may be just Russian bombast, but increasingly Kyiv looks west and sees no alternative.
Ukraine has its oligarchs who wheel and deal and buy influence, but they live in their own country and not (as has happened to some of their Russian counterparts) in exile in London waiting for a dose of plutonium to arrive with the coffee or banged up in a Russian prison. There is no state police, journalists at last are free, and Kyiv sparkles and looks more energetic and full of well-dressed people, bustling stores, offices and public spaces and new cars despite the recession. Unlike neighboring Georgia, which remains a favorite of the West, Kyiv avoids provocation. It has abolished nuclear weapons. It has sent troops to all NATO missions. Ukrainians have remained calm about Russia's Black Sea fleet, and they are fed up with being linked to Georgia as if they were a double act, when Ukraine has a stand-alone claim to be taken seriously as a European nation that wants to fit in with the Euro-Atlantic community.
There was once real hope that Europe meant it when a procession of visitors from Brussels and other EU capitals said Ukraine was en route to a European future. But the West got frightened last August, after the Russian invasion of Georgia, and bought into the Russian line that plans to admit Ukraine to NATO meant trouble and strife though this had also been the Russian line on NATO membership for Poland, the Baltic states and Black Sea nations like Bulgaria and Romania.
... obviously, Russia matters more than Ukraine to both Obama and Europe. On Iran, on nuclear-weapons treaties, on transit access to Afghanistan, Russian cooperation is the goal of post-Bush foreign policy. But help for Ukraine can come in the form of soft power. EU leaders can visit more and encourage trade and investment. Brussels might end a repressive EU visa regime that means a Ukrainian university professor who used to need only a multiple-entry visa to go repeatedly to universities in Western Europe must now apply for each single trip. The Ukrainian military needs help to modernize, and it should get that help as a thank-you for taking part in NATO missions.
Indeed, with Russia breathing down its neck, the last thing Kyiv needs is for Paris and Berlin and Washington to create a new axis of complacency that uses the incoherence of Ukrainian politics to justify accepting the Moscow world view that places Ukraine firmly in Russia's sphere of influence. What's needed now is a new policy that treats Ukraine, warts and all, as a European nation. Instead of listening to the nyet from Moscow, the United States and the EU need to start saying da to Kyiv's moderate and modernizing politicians. Certainly this will be hard for Moscow to accept, but bringing Ukraine into Europe in the full sense of a path toward EU and NATO membership might even help encourage Russia to see itself as a future partner of the EU and the United States, in place of the scratchy rivalry Moscow now creates in the Euro-Atlantic community.
30.03.09. Ukraine's modern history and NATO
Ukrainian Embassy newspaper
March 25, 2009
by Ihor Ostash
The contemporary history of Ukraine is the history of a European state
which is committed to sharing and protecting the common values and
responsibilities of its European family, promoting peace and security, and
further strengthening the Euro-Atlantic area.
A course towards integration into the Euro-Atlantic security structures and future NATO membership is one of the key foreign policy priorities of Ukraine. This strategic course is written in the Ukrainian laws and has no alternatives, as has been repeatedly emphasized by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. This is our way to ensure our sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and prosperity.
Ukraine started its dialogue with NATO soon after getting independence when, in March 1992, it joined the North-Atlantic Co-operation Council. Later, this dialogue was significantly expanded and is currently developing within the framework of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and NATO-Ukraine Commission, established according to the NATO-Ukraine Charter signed in 1997.
Ukraine became the first post-Soviet country to join the Partnership for Peace Framework Document on Jan. 10, 1994, and is successfully using the NATO experience and aid to reform its defence and security sectors to reach military compatibility with NATO allies' armed forces, as well as deepening co-operation in other spheres of mutual concern.
Ukraine is the only non-NATO country that participates in every alliance peacekeeping activity. Kyiv has been and will remain a reliable partner for Western efforts to build regional stability.
We make our contribution to fight terrorism and keep public order under the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Ukraine has also opened its air space for NATO aircraft within the framework of this operation, and has pledged to provide military and technical assistance to Afghanistan. We suggest using Security Service of Ukraine facilities to instruct and train Afghan special forces and services. As well, Ukraine is committed to further increase its capabilities in Afghanistan.
Other Ukrainians continue their efforts in the NATO Kosovo Force, as well in the anti-terrorist Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean Sea. Ukraine is considering an opportunity to increase the number of its personnel in the NATO training mission in Iraq.
All this is nothing less than solid proof that our country remains committed to providing strong support for the alliance's peacekeeping and humanitarian missions and operations.
Nowadays, Ukraine pays serious attention to the development of practical co-operation with NATO, widening the spheres of interaction, demonstrating that we are an active contributor to the collective security rather than merely a consumer.
We joined the Air Situation Data Exchange program, which will assist the joint fight against terrorism, while last year, the decision was made that our country will take part in the NATO Response Force.
Active work is underway to widen our co-operation with NATO in the spheres of cyber defence, the fight against piracy, and implementation of the United Kingdom/France initiative to strengthen the alliance's helicopter capabilities. Ukraine constantly provides its services for the strategic airlift needs of the alliance.
We consistently develop co-operation in combating trafficking in human beings, drugs, weapons and money laundering. There is also fruitful interaction in the fields of ammunition destruction, civil emergency response, environmental security and civil emergency planning, technology and environmental rehabilitation of the former military facilities, retraining and social adaptation of the discharged military personnel.
As you see, it takes some time just to enumerate the different aspects of our co-operation with NATO.
Without exaggeration, last year was crucial for the development of relations between Ukraine and NATO. The Bucharest summit decision on Ukraine's future membership in the alliance and December's ministerial decision about the Annual National Program (ANP) gave us the effective and sufficient ground to move forward on our Euro-Atlantic course.
Nowadays, we concentrate our efforts primarily on the elaboration of the first ANP. We look at the ANP as an effective and sufficient format for our preparation and meeting the criteria for future NATO membership.
At the same time, we are taking into account the importance of public support for our move towards Euro-Atlantic integration. With this in mind, the government of Ukraine is providing the necessary information and is educating the people about the role and place of NATO in the modern system of international relations, as well as on Ukraine's relations with the alliance within the framework of the 2008-2011 State Program on Informing the Ukrainian Society on Euro-Atlantic Integration. Active work in this sphere has already brought about some positive results. Latest polling shows that 30 per cent of Ukrainians stand for joining NATO as soon as possible. This number shows the rise in support of the Euro-Atlantic course by 10 per cent compared to the previous survey in April-June 2008.
We hope that the reinforced NATO information and liaison offices in Kyiv will also play an active role in the popularization of NATO in Ukraine.
Last year saw efforts at all levels become more active than ever to prove that Ukraine's NATO aspirations are not fake but a vital foreign policy priority of our country. Active consultations at different levels have been more evidence of the true nature of our course. That could be seen in the unprecedented political activity of Ukrainian and NATO officials. This dialogue has been constantly deepened and strengthened by increasing the number of high-level contacts at NATO-Ukraine Commission meetings, visits of the Ukrainian prime minister, vice-prime minister, ministers and deputy ministers for foreign affairs and defence, emergency and other top officials to Brussels.
The NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting on March 5 of this year showed that our intentions to maintain an active dialogue with NATO and our progress towards NATO membership remain unchanged.
Now we are on the eve of the NATO Jubilee Summit in April. NATO's new Strategic Concept, which will be discussed at the summit, is aimed to strengthen the role of NATO in the world. We are sure that the policy of enlargement -- the so-called "open-door policy" -- is one of the key elements of NATO's success today and in the years to come. And we are confident that Ukraine's membership in the alliance will contribute to further stability in the region as well as in the world as a whole.
Our path towards NATO membership is a challenging one, but we are deeply inspired to walk it until reaching our goal, shoulder to shoulder with our NATO partners.
Canada has been a strong supporter of Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic aspirations. This could be seen in a number of statements from senior government officials, in particular Prime Minister Stephen Harper's statement during the NATO Bucharest Summit in April 2008, as well as in Canada's letter to support Ukraine's accession to MAP.
Ukraine highly appreciates this support and the support of all NATO member-states who share a view that further enlargement of the alliance with Ukrainian membership will only strengthen the geopolitical weight of the organization and help it address common issues for the mutual benefit of the Euro-Atlantic community.
We have already done a lot on our way. We are ready for further persistent work. And I am sure that in the result we will achieve our goal -- membership in NATO.
Ihor Ostash is Ukraine's ambassador to Canada.
By Bruce Pannier
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, President Viktor Yushchenko, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (left to right) got too chummy for Moscow's liking in Brussels on Marc
"If Russia's interests are going to be ignored, we will be compelled to
begin reviewing the principles of our relations with our partners," Putin
If Russia's sentiments needed clarification, the following day Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev announced that a planned meeting next week between Putin and Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko had been postponed indefinitely.
Putin's warning suggests that relations between Russia and the EU and Ukraine, at least concerning gas supplies, may once again be entering rough waters. Tensions calmed only recently after a dispute this winter over Ukrainian debts to Moscow and gas and transit prices led to temporary cuts in Russian gas supplies to the EU.
... Kyiv's pipeline system is in desperate need of modernization, and for years Gazprom has assumed it would do that work and become at least a part-owner. But Kyiv has been clear about not wanting to hand over any part of its pipeline system to any Russian company.
On March 23, the EU and Ukraine announced that the EU would provide 2.5 billion euros to upgrade Ukraine's 13,500 kilometers of natural-gas pipelines. While the deal did not explicitly say it, analysts appear convinced that EU companies are likely to carry out that work. The deal also raised speculation that EU firms may become operators of Kyiv's pipeline system.
Russian criticism of the EU-Ukraine deal has focused on Moscow's involvement in the project, given that the pipelines carry Russian gas. Politics is clearly part of Russia's calculation, but economics is also in the equation. Gazprom this year will pay Ukraine some $2.3 billion euros in transit fees ($1.70 per 1,000 cubic meters per 100 kilometers).
That pricing structure was part of a deal Russia and Ukraine reached in January to help end their recent gas dispute. Now it's at risk.
Russian Internet newspaper gazeta.ru <http://gazeta.ru> reported on March 24 that if Ukraine's pipeline system comes under the ownership of EU companies, the transit fee will rise to the average European fee -- $3 per 1,000 cubic meters per 100 kilometers. According to gazeta.ru <http://gazeta.ru>, "then [Gazprom] would need to pay some $3.9 billion per year" in transit fees.
"Our joint declaration states clearly that in accordance with Ukrainian law, Ukraine's gas transit system is and will remain state property," Tymoshenko said.
'Transfer of Control'?
Some in the EU, and of course in Russia, believe that is not the case --and that the EU will want some control over the Ukrainian system to ensure Russian gas reaches its destination in the EU.
At the same time, Russia is signaling interest in improving ties with the EU enough to realize two alternative gas pipeline projects that avoid Ukrainian territory -- Nord Stream under the Baltic Sea and South Stream under the Black Sea.
Nord Stream is due to start operations in 2011 and has EU support, particularly from Germany. When completed, Nord Stream will be capable of exporting about half the amount of Russian gas that now transits Ukraine.
The EU, while seemingly securing a victory in the Ukrainian pipeline battle, is now set to wade deeper into the treacherous waters of Ukrainian politics. Tymoshenko and President Viktor Yushchenko were both at the signing ceremony in Brussels, but each has worked to marginalize the other in recent months.
Trying to retain some distance from that domestic power struggle is likely to prove challenging to the EU and any EU-based firms that take on the task of upgrading, and possibly managing, Ukraine's export pipeline system.
by Roman Kupchinsky
On March 23, 2009 the Moscow City Court ruled that Semion Mogilevich, also known as Sergiy Shneider, will remain in prison until May 23 while investigators continue to examine his case. (Kommersant Daily, March 24). This is the third extension of his detention the court has ordered since Mogilevich was arrested on January 23, 2008 and charged with abetting in a tax evasion scheme. What makes this case highly sensitive is that Mogilevich has been suspected of having close links to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the opaque gas trade between Gazprom and Ukraine and RosUkrEnergo.
Mogilevich is a former Ukrainian citizen, now residing in a prison cell in Moscow. He is wanted by the FBI on major fraud charges for his role in what is known as the "YBM Magnex Scam." Numerous police sources claim that he is one of the leaders of the Russian mafia, a charge he denied in an interview with the BBC in 1999 when he was still at liberty living in an exclusive neighborhood in Moscow (BBC, June 12, 1999).
Mogilevich is alleged to be a secret billionaire linked to Vladimir Putin and is reputed to be a hidden business partner of Dmytro Firtash,? the 50 percent owner of RosUkrEnergo, the Swiss-based gas trader, 50 percent owned by Gazprom. Firtash has consistently denied any criminal links to Mogilevich, yet he admits knowing him (Vedomosti, 27 June, 2006). Mogilevich has also been described by Leonid Derkach, the former head of the Ukrainian security service, the SBU, as a close friend of Vladimir Putin's during a conversation with former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma.
The questions surrounding the Putin-Mogilevich relationship - if indeed there is one - are not simply theoretical; the answers touch on the nature of power in the Kremlin; how it functions and which players serve its purposes. Part of the answer can be found in the Kuchma-Derkach dialogue held in Kuchma's office on February 8, 2000. According to a recording of the conversation made by a member of Kuchma's security detail, Mykola Melnychenko:
Kuchma: "Have you found Mogilevich?"
Derkach: "I found him."
Kuchma: "So, are you two working now?"
Derkach: "We're working. We have another meeting tomorrow. He arrives incognito.
Later in the discussion Derkach revealed a few details about Mogilevich.
Derkach: "He's on good terms with Putin. He and Putin have been in contact since Putin was still in Leningrad."
Kuchma: "I hope we won't have any problems because of this."
Derkach: "They have their own affairs" (The transcript appears in theforthcoming book by J.V. Koshiw, The Politics of Kuchma ? the Melnychenko Recordings August 1999 to September 2000).
In December 2005, a confidential Austrian police report noted that:? In August 2005 the FBI gave their Austrian counterparts a confidential report on frauds committed by the SMO (Semion Mogilevich Organization) in connection with gas deliveries from Turkmenistan to the Ukraine and the illegal kickback payments to [a] member of the organization...
According to the FBI the actual control of ETG [Eural Trans Gas] ?and RUE [RosUkrEnergo] is held by Ivan Fursin and Oleg Palchikov. Hungarian police reported about an April 2005 meeting in Vienna between Ivan Fursin, Oleg Palchikov and Dmitri Firtash The FBI described Ivan Fursin, Oleg Palchikov and Dmitri Firtash as? senior members of the SMO (Austrian Federal Criminal Investigation Agency Report on the Semion Mogilevich Criminal Organization, December 1, 2005).
Another document linking Mogilevich to Andras Knopf, the executive director of Eural Trans Gas, the Hungarian gas intermediary company created by Firtash to act as the middleman in the transit of Turkmen gas to Ukraine, is a letter allegedly written by MVD Major-General Alexander Mordovets on November 14, 1998 to the former first Deputy Head of the Department for the Struggle Against Organized Crime of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, in which Mordovets described the close criminal relationship between Knopf and Mogilevich.
Mogilevich was arrested in late January 2008 on charges of abetting a tax evasion scheme by Vladimir Nekrasov, the owner of "Arbat Prestige," a chain of Russian cosmetic stores and has remained in jail while the investigation continues to this day. The Russian police insisted that they had been unable to find and arrest Mogilevich in Moscow earlier - ?yet his photograph, attending services in a Moscow Synagogue appeared on the front page of Izvestia on December 7, 2004.
The official Kremlin version of Mogilevich's role in tax evasion is difficult to believe and it could well turn out to be that Mogilevich was arrested as part of a cover up operation by the Kremlin designed to distance Putin from Firtash and Mogilevich. Putin has remained silent on his links to Firtash and Mogilevich and this might prove to be an opportune moment for western intelligence agencies to shed some light on this murky and far reaching affair.