Gas war far from over, Russian media warns

MOSCOW - Although Russia was set to resume gas supplies to Europe, Russian media warned Tuesday the dispute between Moscow and Kiev remains far from over.

By (AFP)

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Published: Tue 13 Jan 2009, 2:17 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 4:19 AM

"Moscow and Kiev lit up a pipe of peace, but both are getting ready for new gas wars," read the headline of the Kommersant business daily.

Russian gas giant Gazprom "threatens to once again stop transit if Ukraine continues to syphon off gas for technical needs, while Kiev does not hide its intent to do precisely that," the daily pointed out, adding that "Gazprom understands that a new conflict is unavoidable."

Russia was expected to resume Tuesday pumping gas to the European Union through Ukraine, easing a crisis that has hit numerous European countries that are dependant on Russian gas.

Moscow first reduced cut off supplies to Ukraine on New Year's day over disputed back payments and the failure to agree on a price for 2009. Last week it cut off supplies completely, accusing Ukraine of stealing gas, a charge Kiev rejects.

"The only way out for both sides is to agree on new gas prices for Ukraine within 36 hours and sign a contract, but as of (Monday) evening they got nowhere near that," Kommersant wrote.

"The battle for Ukraine's gas prices is still ahead," the Vedomosti business daily echoed, adding that "Gazprom and Naftogaz must now go back to all disputed issues that sparked this war -- the debts of 2008, contracts for 2009, and payment for the gas taken this year."

However, the conflict may yet prove to be short-lived, the Vremya Novostei daily wrote, voicing hope that "as transit resumes, the impossibility of syphoning gas will force Ukraine to speed up its talks with Russia over gas supplies in 2009."

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