No gas flowing from Russia yet, Brussels says
Russian gas is still not flowing through Ukraine to the European Union, despite an apparent agreement reached in Moscow in the early hours of Sunday, the EU's executive said Monday.
The talks between the Russian and Ukrainian prime ministers at the weekend "were indeed substantial, but for the time being no gas is flowing, and there is no reason why it should not flow," European Commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger told journalists.
Russia and Ukraine are set to finalize the agreement on Monday, "but unfortunately, we can't be certain that this will really happen. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the proof of the gas is in the flowing - that's the benchmark," he said.
The EU has been hard hit by the gas row between Russia and Ukraine, which began at the new year. Roughly one quarter of all gas burnt in the EU comes from Russia, and 80 per cent of it passes through Ukrainian pipelines under normal circumstances, reported dpa.
Heavy industry in Poland and Slovakia has been forced to shut down to conserve energy. Bulgaria and Slovakia are debating re-opening Soviet-era nuclear reactors which they were forced to close when they joined the EU. Meanwhile, non-member Serbia has been kept warm by emergency gas transfusions from Hungary, EU officials said.
The EU has repeatedly condemned the closure of gas supplies to its members as part of the Russian-Ukrainian dispute.
On Monday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso spoke with Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and her Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to stress the need for gas to start flowing again, Laitenberger said.