While the 2009 gas deal with Russia does include a take-or-pay clause – the basis of the bill – Ukraine has ample legal grounds to challenge it in the arbitration court in Stockholm. The deal was signed under pressure, after Russia cut supplies in the middle of winter, and Ukraine’s legislation has changed considerably since. Naftogaz is no longer a monopoly importer – billionaire Dmytro Firtash’s OstChem imported eight out of the 33 billion cubic meters of gas bought from Russia last year But the $7 billion demand suggests Russia is counting the entire shortfall.
More importantly, the take-or-pay clause has limited legal validity, particularly since Germany’s RWE just won a landmark case in Stockholm after the court ruled the clause did not hold.
Unfortunately, if Ukraine fails to use this opportunity it would not mark a break with its recent trend of failed negotiations with Russia. While states throughout Europe have over the past year sued Gazprom or renegotiated their deals, Ukraine has blundered time and again.