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Ukraine's "Challenging" Energy Woes

The U.S. has a team on the ground in Ukraine to analyze the current energy and heating situation—and to try to figure out how the country will make it through its often brutal winter deprived of Russian gas. Bloomberg reports:

“We have a team in Ukraine looking at the immediate issues of this winter,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said yesterday at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “The issues are, unfortunately, challenging.” Analysts are studying ways to heat homes with fuels other than natural gas, he said.

Ukraine is bracing for the onset of winter, when temperatures at times drop below minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit), with Russian gas supplies shut off and energy infrastructure damaged by the fighting that’s engulfed the country’s easternmost regions. The fuel shortage has already limited access to hot water.

“Challenging”, here, is a euphemism for “no really good options.” With Ukraine’s economy circling the drain and a potential humanitarian catastrophe looming if the heat is not turned on, the pressure on Western powers will mount to help Ukraine pay its $3.1 billion in arrears to Gazprom, as well as the above-market prices Gazprom is insisting on to keep the gas flowing through the winter months. And all this money, of course, flows right to Putin and his cronies, and helps cushion whatever blow the sanctions are having. The costs of the West’s feckless Ukraine policy are going to be counted in dollars and cents soon enough.

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  • PDX_traveler

    Okay, I confess I have to give up – what would be a Ukraine policy with more feck in it look like? For example, no more half-hearted sanctions – an outright outlawing of all commercial contracts with Russia? ‘Phase gazillion’ sanctions? NATO forces on the ground in Donetsk? What exactly is your position?
    And how would this more feckful policy magically warm up the Ukrainian ’14-’15 winter? Why stop short of elucidating this?

    • Andrew Allison

      What the feck [sorry, irresistible]? TAI’s position, namely that blame for the mess in Ukraine can largely be laid at the feet of the Western, especially EU, powers, and that there doesn’t seem to be much alternative to writing Putin a check seems pretty clear. Arguably, the EU owes Ukraine for bringing about this catastrophe, but a smart move might be, Ukraine obviously being unable to pay the bill, to split it with Gazprom as a humanitarian gesture (perhaps throwing in some sanction relief).

      • Sibir_RUS

        Russia is already helping Ukraine. Millions of citizens from all over Ukraine earn in Russia – it brings income to the budget of Ukraine. About 2 million refugees Donbass fled to Russia (It is women, children and the elderly.). We send trucks with humanitarian aid in Lugansk and Donetsk, participate in recovery destroyed towns and villages, urge all sides of the conflict in Ukraine to begin peace negotiations through dialogue between Kiev and South-Eastern regions, including Odessa.
        Gazprom offered Kiev discounts on gas$ 100 per thousand cubic meters. No “thanks” from official Kiev! Aid from the US and the EU still not. If real help will come only from Russia, Ukrainians will not emerge from the crisis, people will feel cheated and it will the next Maidan 3.0, 4.0, 5.0… etc.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Drink, feck, girls

  • Pete

    “The U.S. has a team on the ground in Ukraine to analyze the current energy and heating situation—and to try to figure out how the country will make it through its often brutal winter..”

    It is simple. Pay your past bills.

  • Sibir_RUS

    Victoria Nuland fed revolutionaries cookies.
    Leaders of the EU countries and the USA danced on the Maydan 2.0.
    Now let them pay for the debts of Ukraine to Gazprom.

  • Sibir_RUS

    American documentary film took at the show in Siena audience award.

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