Russian natural-gas giant Gazprom is threatening to cut off supplies to Ukraine entirely as early as February 26, a move the Russian company says could result in a suspension of supplies to Europe.
Gazprom chief Aleksei Miller said in a February 24 statement that "Ukraine has not made a new prepayment for gas on time."
Miller added if no new prepayments are made, once the 114 million cubic meters (mcm) of prepaid gas is delivered to Ukraine there will be a "complete cessation of Russian gas supplies to Ukraine...which creates serious risks for gas transit to Europe."
Miller's statement comes as Ukraine's state energy firm Naftogaz has accused Gazprom of failing to deliver all of the gas Ukraine has paid for.
Naftogaz said on February 23 that it had paid in advance for 114 mcm of gas but had received only some 47 mcm.
The Ukrainian company said it had sent a notice of breach of contract to the Ukrainian government and the European Commission and had demanded an explanation from Gazprom.
The European Commission helped broker a deal last October between Moscow and Kyiv that was meant to ensure Ukraine received gas during the winter and that supplies of Russian gas to Europe through Ukraine were not disrupted.
Under that agreement, Ukraine promised to pay off arrears for gas received and to prepay for future gas shipments, while Gazprom agreed to lower the price.
That deal is valid until the end of March.
Gazprom said it is supplying gas to the parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine that are controlled by pro-Russian separatists -- since Kyiv stopped supplying them.
Gazprom said it considers those two regions as being part of the contract with Naftogaz for supplies to Ukraine though the Russian company conceded that Naftogaz "does not take these volumes into account, as a result...estimates of how much prepaid gas has been supplied differ."
Based on reporting by Reuters, Interfax, dpa, and Kommersant