Russia threatens to stop gas supplies to Ukraine

Moscow, Dec 24: Russia, Tuesday, threatened Ukraine of halting gas supplies, if it failed to pay Russia $1.65 billion before the end of 2014, as an advance for January deliveries.

Under an agreement between the Russian and Ukrainian governments, "there will be no supplies in January, if the debt of $1.65 billion remains unsettled," Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak said.


Earlier this month, Ukraine's state-run oil and gas company Naftogaz made a payment in advance, for the supply of Russian gas needed in December, after which Moscow resumed the flow of gas that had been cut off since June.

Ukraine announced in mid-November that it planned to resume purchasing Russian gas in December, having settled almost half of its debt to Moscow under the terms of the agreement reached October 30 in Brussels.

Under the Brussels agreement, Naftogaz repaid $1.45 billion of its gas debt to Russia, paving the way for resuming Russian gas purchases.

Ukraine also said that it would buy up to 1.5 billion cubic metres of gas in December and one billion cubic metres in the first quarter of 2015.

Russia, Ukraine and the European Union (EU) have pledged to guarantee the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine to EU territories until March 2015.

In a development, which might have great bearing on Ukraine-Russia ties, the Ukrainian parliament Tuesday voted to renounce the country's non-aligned status and work towards NATO membership.

Russia's permanent representative to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Andrei Kelin, said that Ukraine did not correspond to the criteria for joining NATO, either in economic or in political terms.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had said in November that Kiev's abandoning of non-bloc status meant following a course towards solving the conflict in south-eastern Ukraine by force against Russia.

The US and its European allies have slapped rounds of sanctions on Moscow over the the Russian annexation of Crimea in March and what they call Russia's unending efforts to fund and arm separatists in eastern Ukraine.


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