Gazprom is at it again

Gazprom officials are shocked, shocked (!) that anyone would accuse them of playing politics with natural gas. Just when Ukraine appears to have reelected the pro-Western coalition led by Yulia Tymoshenko, Gazprom suddenly warned that the country’s $1.3 billion gas tab hasn’t been payed. Ukraine, the company says, may find its gas cut off if ...

598921_071003_tymoshenko_05.jpg
598921_071003_tymoshenko_05.jpg

Gazprom officials are shocked, shocked (!) that anyone would accuse them of playing politics with natural gas. Just when Ukraine appears to have reelected the pro-Western coalition led by Yulia Tymoshenko, Gazprom suddenly warned that the country's $1.3 billion gas tab hasn't been payed. Ukraine, the company says, may find its gas cut off if it doesn't pay up, pronto. But it's just business, company officials say:

The problem is objective," the state-controlled oil and gas company said. "It is not connected in any way with who wins or does not win in Ukraine. But it is connected to debts that have to be paid."

They might have added, "Who ya gonna believe? Me or your lyin' eyes?" But as one analyst put it to the FT, "[T]his is sort of a way to send a signal to the next government that if Tymoshenko comes to power, expect things to get tougher."

Gazprom officials are shocked, shocked (!) that anyone would accuse them of playing politics with natural gas. Just when Ukraine appears to have reelected the pro-Western coalition led by Yulia Tymoshenko, Gazprom suddenly warned that the country’s $1.3 billion gas tab hasn’t been payed. Ukraine, the company says, may find its gas cut off if it doesn’t pay up, pronto. But it’s just business, company officials say:

The problem is objective,” the state-controlled oil and gas company said. “It is not connected in any way with who wins or does not win in Ukraine. But it is connected to debts that have to be paid.”

They might have added, “Who ya gonna believe? Me or your lyin’ eyes?” But as one analyst put it to the FT, “[T]his is sort of a way to send a signal to the next government that if Tymoshenko comes to power, expect things to get tougher.”

Ukraine is a major gas transshipment center for the rest of Europe. If this dispute doesn’t get resolved quickly, we can expect European leaders like Angela Merkel to start sounding the alarm again about Europe’s energy security and blaming Russia for its brutal blend of politics and business. But pointing the finger at Russia and Gazprom is self-serving, energy banker Jérôme Guillet argued earlier this year for FP. Europe’s bleating over Gazprom’s heavy-handed negotiating style, Guillet says, ignores the fact that poor decisions made by European leaders have made the continent vulnerable to these kinds of tactics. Check it out.

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