Russia and Ukraine sign new gas contract

Russia and Ukraine have agreed on a new five-year contract for gas transit to Western Europe. Under the deal Russia accepts a contractual penalty of three billion dollars and Ukraine will waive any further demands. The agreement prevents a new "gas war" of the kind that flared up eleven years ago. Commentators see this for the most part as good news.

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Kommersant (RU) /

This deal is win-win

Kommersant opposes the widespread view in Russia that the gas deal is a defeat for Moscow:

“Public opinion likes to see these gas negotiations as a zero-sum game, where a win for Ukraine - and Kiev can be satisfied with this conclusion - must necessarily mean a disadvantage for Russia. The principle 'I'm catching a cold to annoy my mum' almost led to another gas conflict. Yes, Ukraine will keep its gas transport system and earn money with it - albeit less than before. But Gazprom will also benefit if it can supply more gas to Europe, which Europeans are happy to buy. If anyone has lost here, it's certainly not those involved.”

Wedomosti (RU) /

Exports now more important than power games

The deal shows that Russia can no longer continue to use natural gas to apply political pressure as it has done in the past, according to Vedomosti:

“Natural gas is more than just an important export item for Russia. It's an instrument which the state leadership has repeatedly used to solve purely political matters. ... In 2009, Russia paid a high price for mixing politics and business on the gas issue. ... A few weeks without transit via Ukraine changed the continent's energy policy forever. Now that the market share of liquefied petroleum gas is growing, Gazprom can no longer afford to play the uncompromising bad boy wielding Moscow's 'gas trudgeon'.”

Duma (BG) /

Putin has tricked the US

The new gas transit deal is good for Europe and a blow to the United States, says the pro-Russian daily Duma:

“Russia has proven once again to Europe that it is a stable energy supplier, one that can be relied on. The transit of Russian natural gas through Ukraine comes as a blow to the US, however, which wants to limit Russian gas supplies to Europe. Now in addition to the already existing 'Turkish Stream' pipeline and the almost-completed 'Nordstream 2', gas will continue to flow to the West via Ukraine. ... Putin has tricked the United States. In addition, the new US sanctions against 'Nordstream 2' put Washington in a bad light vis-à-vis the participating countries, especially Germany.”