Russia’s Gazprom reassures West Europe on supplies
MOSCOW (AP) — Ukraine is once again buying Russian gas and no longer endangering supplies to Western Europe, Russia’s state natural gas company said Friday.
Most of the gas that Gazprom supplies to Europe goes through pipelines that cross Ukraine. Ukraine, which Gazprom says owes it $1.3 billion, a week ago stopped buying Russian gas and said it would rely on its underground stores through the end of the year.
Gazprom warned on Thursday that this would deplete the amount of so-called technical gas needed to drive the gas through the pipelines to Europe. This raised echoes of 2009, when Russia cut gas shipments to Europe for three weeks in a dispute with Ukraine.
On Friday, Russian news agencies quoted Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller as saying that Ukraine has resumed purchases of Russian gas and stopped taking gas from its underground stores.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his Ukrainian counterpart, Mykola Azarov, discussed the situation by telephone on Friday. A statement posted on the Ukrainian government website said they confirmed that each side would do everything necessary to make sure supplies to Europe were not disrupted.
The statement on the Russian government site said Medvedev impressed on the Ukrainian prime minister the necessity to pump sufficient gas.