Ukraine and Russia vying for new gas contracts
The ten-year gas contract between Russia and Ukraine expires at the end of the year. Currently both countries are negotiating new contracts for the supply and transit of gas to the EU. The process revolves around bilateral claims running into the billions as well as the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2, which will render transit via Ukraine to Northern Europe obsolete. How can the tensions be resolved?
Hopefully Brussels will make Kiev see reason
Radio Kommersant FM hopes Brussels will put its foot down vis-à-vis Kiev because even after Nord Stream 2 is up and running countries like Bulgaria and Greece will remain dependent on supplies from Ukraine:
“Kiev is aware that the main victims of the gas conflict will be those EU countries with which Gazprom has delivery obligations. ... Right now the situation is at an impasse: with the approach of the fateful day of January 1 both sides are provoking an escalation and upping the pressure. But there's a third party involved, namely the EU. It has no interest in a gas war and wants to avoid a situation in which member state Bulgaria is left to freeze in the winter. All hope lies in the possibility of the EU officials to whom Kiev is obliged to listen finding arguments that make the Ukrainians more open to negotiations.”
Separate politics and business
The gas issue should play no role in the negotiations for peace in Donbass, investment banker Sergey Fursa finds in Novoye Vremya:
“Suddenly Putin and Zelensky started talking about gas on the phone. And then rumours circulated that gas would also be a topic at the Normandy Four summit. ... And finally the Minister for Energy and Ecology thought about how Gazprom's discount could be used for Naftogaz [Ukraine's national oil and gas company]. This is worrying because once again politics is interfering in matters that are none of its business. ... The problem is that the price of gas must be in line with market prices and discounts are unacceptable. Nobody gives discounts just like that. ... We can buy gas from Russia. At the market price. But we can't waive Russia's three-billion-dollar debt.”