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You're reading: Russia and Ukraine: A new stage in the gas war

Indeed, in many respects, it is a question that Ukrainian leaders have been obliged to address since the start of independence 20 years ago. Europeans are justifiably nervous about the prospect of another gas war between Russia and Ukraine.

Each side accuses the other: the Russians maintain that Ukraine’s behavior has been duplicitous and childish; the Ukrainians complain that they are paying prices for gas that are far higher than those for some European consumers, such as Germany and Italy, thanks to the gas deal negotiated between Tymoshenko and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in 2009.

At issue are the following. Rather than signing an agreement to join the Russian-led customs union, and following the stipulations of the 2009 agreement that Ukraine has to buy a minimum of 33 billion cubic meters of gas annually and will be paying $400 per cubic meter by the end of 2011, Ukraine has threatened to seek arbitration from an international court in Stockholm, purchase gas from Turkmenistan or Azerbaijan, cut down gas consumption, and find more domestic sources that could alleviate the situation.

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