Moscow has dismissed as "baseless" Condoleeza Rice's criticism of the recent Russia-Ukraine gas dispute (file photo) (RFE/RL)
6 January 2006 -- Russia today dismissed critical comments made by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over Moscow's recent gas dispute with Kyiv.
Addressing reporters in Washington yesterday, Rice accused Russia of using its gas wealth as a political weapon. She also questioned Moscow's willingness "to behave as a responsible energy supplier" given that it has just assumed the rotating presidency of the Group of Eight most powerful industrial nations.
A Russian Foreign Ministry statement called Rice's comments "baseless" and said her remarks were "met with surprise" in Moscow.
After weeks of bickering over Russia's threats to quadruple the price it was charging Ukraine for its gas supplies, both parties reached a compromise on 3 January.
The leaders of both countries have expressed satisfaction with the agreement.
(RFE/RL with Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
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- 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.