Friday

15th Dec 2017

Gas war escalates as Russia halves Slovakia supplies

Russia has cut gas deliveries to Slovakia by half in a bad sign for EU efforts to broker a deal on Ukraine.

Prime minister Robert Fico told press after a cabinet meeting in Bratislava on Wednesday (1 October) that the drop came without any warning.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He said his national distributor, SPP, can still "fulfill its commitments" on “reverse flow” to Ukraine and supply customers in Slovakia and the Czech Republic by buying extra volumes on the spot market.

But he criticised Russia, saying: "Gas has become a tool in a political fight … This isn't about a lack of gas, it’s about playing with gas supplies as an instrument of political posturing”.

He said he does not expect a gas crisis this winter because it would cause too much “economic damage on both sides”.

But he called for EU help in dealing with Moscow.

“We want to co-ordinate this situation with the European Commission … Slovakia will need co-operation in the European sphere”.

Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland started selling Russian gas back to Ukraine after Russia cut off its neighbour in a price dispute in June. But Hungary also cut off Ukraine after the CEO of Russian gas firm Gazprom visited Budapest last week.

The Slovak crunch comes ahead of meetings between EU officials, Russia, and Ukraine on Thursday and Friday.

The EU commission has put forward a deal for Ukraine to pay Russia $3.1 billion of debt and to pre-pay for gas month by month at above market prices until April in return for 5 billion cubic metres (bcm).

If there is no agreement Ukraine won’t be able to supply EU transit customers as normal.

But Andriy Kobolyev, the CEO of Ukraine’s national distributor, Naftogaz, told German daily Handelsblatt on Wednesday that without reverse flow he will need another 5 bcm from Russia to keep EU supplies going.

He also criticised the EU for doing nothing to make Hungary keep its promise.

“Two EU companies, including a German one, have contracts with Hungary for gas delivery from there to Ukraine. But these are now simply stopped. Where is European solidarity?” he said.

German chancellor Angela Merkel and EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso have also urged Russia not to escalate the gas war.

Merkel called Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, while Barroso published a personal letter to the Russian leader.

For his part, former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who now works for Gazprom, in a speech in Rostock on the Baltic Sea coast the same day said the EU should take back economic sanctions to improve the situation.

He said the Russia sanctions are “wrong … I want to say that loud and clear”.

But Germany’s ambassador to the US, Peter Wittig, speaking at a think tank in Washington on Monday, indicated that Schroeder is out of touch with feeling in Berlin.

Wittig said that Putin “broke trust” and “renounced … [the] partnership that we had” by putting troops in Ukraine.

Ukraine wary of EU's Russia gas deal

The EU is keen for Ukraine to accept a winter deal on Russian gas, but Ukraine is wary of the terms and of broader EU-Russia energy ties.

Russian gas less mighty than it looks, EU says

A Russian gas cut-off would have a “substantial impact”, but even the most vulnerable countries - Bulgaria, Estonia, and Finland - could get through the winter.

Two EU states break ranks on Jerusalem

Hungary and the Czech Republic have broken EU ranks on US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite warnings it could bring back 'darker times'.

Feature

Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees

Lebanon hosts over one million Syrian refugees, and has received some €1bn in EU funds. Caught in a geo-political tug of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon's domestic politics have cast a longer shadow over its Syrian 'guests'.

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty

The EU and its members states have signed up to 'Faustian pact' with Libyan authorities in the their effort to prevent migrant and refugee boat departures towards Italy, says Amnesty International.

News in Brief

  1. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  2. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  3. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  4. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  5. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont
  6. French central bank lifts 2017 growth forecast
  7. EU leaders set to move Brexit talks on to next stage
  8. EU leaders confirm support for two-state solution

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  2. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states
  3. EU asylum debate reopens old wounds
  4. Estonia completes two out of three priority digital bills
  5. EU countries are not 'tax havens', parliament says
  6. Tech firms' delays mean EU needs rules for online terror
  7. Slovak PM: Human rights are not a travel pass to EU
  8. British PM limps to EU capital after Brexit defeat