Ukraine threatened to block Russian oil and gas supplies to Europe in new sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s government, which it blames for a separatist uprising that has ravaged the country’s east.
Ukraine, which no longer receives any gas from Russia but acts as a conduit for its neighbor’s European customers, is considering a “complete or partial ban on the transit of all resources” across its territory, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told reporters Friday in Kiev. It may also ban Russian planes from its airspace and cut defense-industry cooperation.
|An employee adjusts a control wheel on pipework at the Dashava underground gas storage facility in Lviv, Ukraine. ( Bloomberg)|
“There’s no doubt that Russia will continue its course ― started a decade ago ― aimed at banning imports of Ukrainian goods, limiting cooperation with Ukraine, pressure and blackmail,” Yatsenyuk said. “In the most negative scenario for Ukraine, losses during the first year may reach $7 billion, not only because of sanctions but also because of the Kremlin’s aggressive policy.”
The threat may signal that the government in Kiev calculates it has little to lose. It comes a day after Russia banned food imports from Ukraine, the U.S., the European Union and other countries that blame it for stoking the worst geo-political crisis since the Cold War. Gas prices in Western Europe rose on the news of Ukraine’s sanctions plan, which would require parliamentary approval.
Ukraine hasn’t received Russian gas since June 16, when OAO Gazprom cut its supplies in a debt and pricing dispute. The country will manage at least until the end of the year by using stored gas and reducing consumption, according to NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy chief executive officer Andriy Kobolyev. (Bloomberg)