Expert: Gazprom’s new scheme to “suffocate” Ukraine and blackmail the EU

Russian gas line to Europe

Russian gas line to Europe 

2014/12/17 • Analysis & Opinion, Featured

Gazprom has started a game with goals to deprive Ukraine from gas in its strategic reserves, disrupt gas supplies to the EU in January, and to revive the South Stream pipeline project.

Mykhailo Honchar, President of "Strategy XXI" Analytical Center

Mykhailo Honchar, President of “Strategy XXI” Center of Global Studies

Mykhailo Honchar, president of the Center “Strategy XXI” expressed this opinion in an interview with Ukrinform, while commenting on yesterday’s report that the Russian “Gazprombank” (owned by Russian gas monopoly Gazprom) filed claims for 5.679 billion cubic meters of gas stored in underground gas reserves in Ukraine deposited there by Ostchem Holding, a company owned by Dmitry Firtash (a Ukrainian oligarch with close ties to Gazprom), as a collateral for $842.5 million in loans.

“According to official data from UkrTransGaz and considering the rate of gas utilization since the beginning of the heating season, Ukraine would get through the heating season still having left about 5 billion cubic meters of gas of minimum reserve in early April,” – said the expert. He thinks this situation does not suit the Kremlin, which, while reducing the use of the military component of the hybrid war, has started to escalate economic pressure on Ukraine. One of the components of this pressure is increasing Ukraine’s energy dependence on Russia via schemes involving the coal and electricity supply. The scheme for “gas suffocation” of Ukraine is just a part of this new strategy.

“By simulating a made-up corporate conflict between Gazprombank and Group DF (Dmitry Firtash’s group of companies), Gazprom started the scheme to deprive Ukraine from a significant part of its gas reserves. As a result, we would run out of gas around late January – early February, right around the peak of winter’s coldest weather. This simple scheme starts with a requirement from Gazprombank to Firtash to immediately pay the loan back. He, of course, will refuse, because supposedly he has no means to do it, but then there is this collateral – gas stored in Ukrainian underground gas reserve facilities, which must be transferred by Ukraine’s Naftogaz to Gazprom,” – said the expert.

According to Honchar, this will be a “pseudo-legal” attempt to deprive Ukraine from a part of its gas reserves during the coldest of winter weather. It is obvious that neither the Ukrainian government, nor Naftogaz would agree to transfer the gas at that time. Gazprom will immediately use this to accuse Kiev of “appropriation” or even “theft” of the gas. The purpose of this entire scheme is to demonstrate supposedly “illegal” actions of Ukraine to Europe and its unreliability as a partner in the gas supply chain to the EU.

“It is easy to imagine the following steps by Moscow,” continues Honchar. “The Kremlin, while accusing Ukraine, offers EU countries to run its Nord Stream pipeline at its full capacity to compensate for a partially-closed transit through Ukraine and to renew the construction of the South Stream pipeline, which the Russians allegedly abandoned previously.”

The expert reminded that Gazprom’s German lobbyists have already started to sing the old tune about the need to negotiate with Russia on South Stream. It is noteworthy that even the German Chancellor Angela Merkel got dragged into this game and that she advised the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to negotiate with Russia on this project. Moscow has increased its media campaign to promote the Kremlin’s favorite thesis that Ukraine will siphon gas off, so Russia will be forced to suspend transit through Ukraine.

As was previously reported, Russia conducted a similar campaign during the gas conflict with Ukraine in 2009. The ongoing conditioning of Russian and international public opinion for the repeat of a gas blackmail scenario shows that Russia is serious about blocking European gas transit through Ukraine this winter. This can be not only a step to enforce the Russian energy domination of Ukraine, but also a great challenge to European countries and a test of effectiveness of the measures implemented by the European Union in the last several years to counter such gas blackmail by the Russian monopoly.

Translated by: A. N.
Source: UkrInform

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  • W8post

    It’s gonna be a hot cold winter…

  • Michel Cloarec

    It is impossible to do business with the russians. They have too many years of mafia manners in their genes. Gazprom and bank and putin is the same pocket
    They had a chance since 1991 to try to be like others ! NO they blew up because they believe they are the world best ! I doubt when I watch the news today. . The stability of ruble is on a 2 hours scheme. BRAVO ! It is the fault of the West YES it is !
    blame yourself ! Russia too small country to deal with world business. Only Big China can save them. Good luck. With the yen they can buy noodles cheap as humanitarian help.

    • PorKoshenko Ukr Pres

      Oh here again the troll on “Офіцер і джентльмен” style

      Are 40 years that CCCP/Russia supplies UE with gas and oil
      and problem were ONLY for UKR intermediation

      South stream would be the solution

  • Uncle Sam

    Which bloody idiot thought it was a good idea to trust Russia to supply Gas to Europe…. A 5 year old would know this was not a good idea given Russian style and past unethical behaviour.

    It’s time Europe found 100% gas capability else where. Can you imagine what’s going to happen when they “can sell” to China hugh volumes…. Yes they will put gun to Europes head as they will have other options. Strategicly placed LNG plants and a very large fracking program needs to happen now accross Europe … Not in 12 months.

    • W8post

      Norway??

      • Uncle Sam

        They have shed loads of gas and export to UK BUT they can’t supply all Europe …..

    • PorKoshenko Ukr Pres

      problem is UKR not russ
      Are 40 years that CCCP/Russia supplies UE with gas and oil
      and problem were ONLY for UKR intermediation

      • Uncle Sam

        Who told you that …. Lol

        • PorKoshenko Ukr Pres

          your mother this night

          • Uncle Sam

            This I doubt as she’s dead …. Your not very good at the intellectual side are you 😉

          • PorKoshenko Ukr Pres

            and for what kind of answer
            do you wait
            with this so “intellectual” question ?

          • Uncle Sam

            I doubt you understand this given you English so bad

  • Czech Friend

    Hope this analysis will spread.

  • Dirk Smith

    New Years Resolutions/Goals for Ukraine in 2015: Complete wall and begin fracking.

  • Dean Venture

    Wake up call for Europe – You can’t have any kind of substantial dependency on Russia. They will use it as a lever against you. It’s time to take these weapons away from the Kremlin.

  • Azazello Blasphemikov

    The Oil and Nuklearcompanies will disappear like the dinsaurs did.
    Renewable energy is cheaer, saver, better for the environment and makes a country independent from energy imports.
    The try of blackmailing the EU is the last effort of the dying gazprom-dinosaur. it is more a crying than a shouting of a creature,that realises that it transmutes to a fossil.

    • Quartermaster

      So far, none of your assertions about “renewable energy” has proven true. If anything, the use of nuclear energy will increase and fossil fuels will be redirected. The only way this will not prove true going forward is if there is some breakthrough making renewables actually cheaper and, so far, there is nothing on the horizon.
      The death of Gazprom may, indeed, occur because of the incompetence of Putin’s regime. But, it is more likely that it will survive and its ownership will no longer be the Russian state.