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Kiev Accuses Moscow of Stealing Gas in Crimea

Today, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk accused Russia of stealing Ukraine’s gas from storage facilities in Crimea. Yatseniuk alleged that Moscow purloined roughly 2.2 billion cubic meters of gas, worth about $1 billion. Reuters reports:

With newfound confidence inspired by the election of a Ukrainian president at the weekend, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said gas talks with Russia could not progress until he heard Moscow’s response on giving back the 2.2 billion cubic metres of gas which he said was taken when the country’s Black Sea region was annexed by Russia in March. […]

“We want to hear a response from Russia … on the question of returning to Ukraine 2.2 billion cubic metres of gas which Russia stole through Chernomornaftogaz on the territory of (Crimea),” Yatseniuk told a televised session of his cabinet.

He did not explain the source of that figure but Kiev had referred earlier to a similar figure held in storage in Crimea.

Though at first blush this seems like a bit of rhetorical jiujitsu worthy of Vladimir Putin, haggling over gas stored in Crimea may not be the best move in the playbook for Ukraine. As Vladislav Inozemtsev argued over the weekend, it would be better for Kiev’s authorities to focus on improving their lot while neither recognizing the loss of territory nor contesting Russian annexation. For now, it would be wiser for Ukraine’s new government to be playing the long game.

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  • PKCasimir

    Who writes this nonsense, the same guy who advised Neville Chamberlain to appease Hitler at Munich and not confront him? Or is the author an ex-cookie pusher from our pusillanimous State Department? Anyone who has ever had any dealings with Russians, which apparently this author hasn’t, knows that you have to be just as firm and as tough as they pretend to be, otherwise they see you as weak and will push even harder.

  • Andrew Allison

    It might have been more useful to discus the ownership of gas stored in Crimea. The fact that Russia is demanding that Ukraine pay for the gas which it delivered pre-annexation is prima facie evidence that the gas belonged to Ukraine. If the gas has been used by Crimea, Russia clearly owes Ukraine the cost of the gas. Rather than a nonsensical insistence upon its return, why not simply deduct its cost from the amount due Russia?

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