http://gdb.rferl.org/F014FC2C-7992-4753-A848-6BFA4639DFAD_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/F014FC2C-7992-4753-A848-6BFA4639DFAD_mw800_mh600.jpg
Gazprom has been accused of undue pressure on Ukraine (epa)
3 January 2006 -- Russia today rejected Kyiv's claims that it was seeking to destabilize Ukraine by applying economic pressure through natural-gas price hikes.
On 1 January, Russia's state-controlled Gazprom monopoly halted gas supplies to Ukraine because Kyiv refused its demands to agree to a more than fourfold increase in gas prices.
Those gas supplies were at least partially restored today.
Ukrainian First Deputy Foreign Minister Anton Buteyko, speaking on Ukrainian television yesterday, said Moscow was seeking to force the Ukrainian economy into a dead end. He also said that Russia, like "other empires" before it, is sooner or later going to fall apart.
Mikhail Kamynin, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said the Ukrainian accusations were "groundless."
"We pointed out to the Ukrainian diplomat that the allegations made by another high-ranking Ukrainian diplomat
that Russia is putting economic pressure on Ukraine with the aim of destabilizing it are groundless."
Kamynin said the Ukrainian charge d'affaires was called to the ministry today to protest what he described as Buteyko's unacceptable statements.
Click on the map for an enlarged image.
- Ukraine consumes 70 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year. It produces 20 bcm of its own gas, has a signed contract to import 40 bcm from Turkmenistan, and in 2005 was getting 29 bcm from Russia as payment for transit of Russian gas.
- Ukraine sells some 7 bcm of gas a year to the West and places some in underground storage facilities. These facilities can hold 34.5 bcm.
Ukraine is the sixth-largest consumer of gas
in the world and uses more gas than Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia combined.
- Russia has proven gas reserves of 47 trillion cubic meters (tcm) -- the largest in the world ahead of Iran and Qatar.
Russia sells approximately 160 bcm to Europe each year.
By 2015, Europe is expected to import 300 bcm, or 40 percent of its projected needs from Russia.
Russia's Gazprom is the world's largest gas company.
It is the only company allowed by Russian law to export gas outside the borders of the CIS. It also owns the gas-transportation system and most of the gas fields in Russia.
The Russian state is Gazprom's majority shareholder
, with a 51 percent share. The company's ownership rights changed as of the beginning of 2006, with Gazprom stock being sold on the open market. The Russian state, however, will continue to hold the majority stake.