Russia’s Gazprom, the country’s main oil and gas exporter, claims Ukraine has used up its prepaid natural gas allotment, and will be cut off within days. This claim results from the fact that they’re counting unfunded exports to Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine under Ukraine’s national account. This probably stings, in addition to being extremely inconvenient:
Ukraine says it has already paid for all the gas it requested for this year, and for an additional 287 million cubic meters not yet ordered. Kiev is now accusing Russia of violating an agreement reached in October, under which Ukraine paid $3.1 billion in past gas bills and Gazprom resumed supplies on a prepaid basis. That agreement was expected to keep Ukraine fully supplied with gas through the winter.
The dispute seems to hinge at least in part on the gas that Russia has delivered to the breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, which it says counts toward the total Kiev bought in advance. Earlier this month, Gazprom said it would supply natural gas directly to the regions, which are largely controlled by separatists, because it said the Ukrainian government had shut off supplies. Gazprom said that it would charge Ukraine for that gas, and that the amount of gas supplied to the east would be deducted from Ukraine’s prepaid allotment.
[…] separatist leaders went on local television to thank Russia and Mr. Putin [for gas deliveries]. “We thank the Russian Federation and Vladimir Vladimirovich, as Russia is again extending its hand to help, giving warmth,” said the leader of the Luhansk People’s Republic, Igor Plotnitsky. “Thank you, Russia.”
This is yet another example of how the Ukrainian central government is being forced to subsidize essential services for the very rebels they are trying to suppress. Previous measures included maintaining ATM services, pension payouts, salaries, utilities, and more within the rebel-occupied territories — putting the lie to the separatist claims of having their own self-sufficient governments. Kiev ended most of those services in November.