Gas row between Russia and Ukraine intensifies
The Russian energy giant Gazprom has cut off its gas supplies to Ukraine, forcing the country to close public institutions on Friday. The move came after an arbitration court in Stockholm ruled that Gazprom must pay a fine of around two billion euros in the gas dispute that has gone on since 2014. Commentators suspect Russia may not be as displeased by the ruling as one might think.
Ukraine has an image problem
The ruling won't hurt the Russian gas company, state news agency Ria Novosti predicts:
“Even if Gazprom isn't successful in appealing the decision, the company won't go bankrupt because of just over two billion dollars. But the desire of both Gazprom and Ukraine's European partners to work together with the country in any way will be weakened. It's impossible to earn any money in a normal way with these nice people. Scandals and disputes are guaranteed. The bosses of German and Austrian energy companies expressed their views on this at the start of the week - and in no uncertain terms. Big money loves peace and tranquillity.”
Gazprom wants to push through Nord Stream 2
The current gas dispute between Ukraine and Russia won't have any direct repercussions for the time being, journalist Halyna Studennykova writes in Strana:
“Gazprom won't interrupt transit. Even if Russia initiates contract termination proceedings, as [Gazprom chairman Alexey] Miller has promised, the process will take years. The immediate objective behind Gazprom's current actions is likely to show European consumers once again that Ukraine is not a reliable transit country and that Nord Stream 2 absolutely needs to be launched.”