Winter is coming, Europe concerned over Russian gas supply

On the Russian side, Gazprom. On the Ukrainian side, Naftogaz. The former accounts for 60% of the latter’s gas needs. If it’s cold in Ukraine’s homes this winter, the explanation will be Russian. Since the beginning of the war between the two countries, the government in Kyiv accused Moscow of conducting a “general plan to destroy Ukraine,” and among the weapons used, gas supplies would be a precious one. Previous crises in 2006 and 2009 showed the reality of such a strategy, generating particular effectiveness yet counterbalanced by adverse diplomatic effects.

Since then, the EU has stepped up its efforts to diversify energy supply and build new pipelines that bypass Ukraine. But for now, it’s about 15-20% of EU gas that still comes from Russia, a figure that amounts to 100% in Finland, Estonia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic, 80% in Bulgaria and Slovakia, 75% in Latvia, 60% in Poland and 40% in Germany. According to Gazprom, the problem would be rather financial than political (or strategic). Ukraine’s outstanding payments would amount to approximately USD 4.3 billion. Except that in April, the price of gas has skyrocketed from USD 268 for 100 m3 to USD 485.

“We cannot pay,” a Ukrainian source told Cyceon, and “who knows for sure that the price will not increase again as winter comes?” According to Moscow, Ukraine broke the rules. However, despite the ongoing crisis, the delivery of gas to other European countries should be safe. Like it did in Crimea, Russia will blow hot and cold in line with tactical necessities as part of a long-term strategy. Moscow stays ready for confrontation though it (says it) favors diplomatic ways. Business is business.