BRUSSELS. — Tensions have been rising between Moscow and the West over Ukraine in recent weeks with Western governments stepping up pressure on Russia through the imposition of economic sanctions. However, the European Commission (EC) is urging Russia to honour its gas contracts after Moscow warned that Europe’s supplies could be at risk unless it helps to pay Ukraine’s natural gas debt.
The EC spokesperson, Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, said yesterday that they expect their gas suppliers to meet their commitments.
She added that 70 percent of Russia’s energy exports, including oil and gas, go to Europe, accounting for around half of Russia’s revenues.
Hansen’s remarks came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned in a letter to 18 European countries that state gas firm Gazprom could be forced to completely or partially cease gas deliveries if Kiev fails to pay its US$2,2 billion debt.
Putin also urged the leaders to urgently discuss measures to stabilise Ukraine’s economy and ensure transit of Russian gas to Europe via that country.
On April 8, Gazprom spokesperson, Sergey Kupriyanov, said Ukraine has not paid off any of its US$2,2 billion debt to the energy giant despite an April 7 deadline to start reducing its debt.
Meanwhile, a gas industry source said Russian gas exports to Ukraine have been falling since the beginning of the month.
According to the source, who declined to be named, Russia delivered 48,9 million cubic metres on April 9, down from around 80 million cubic metres on April 1.
In another development, an analyst has accused NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen of being a US puppet paid to trigger a war against Russia by spreading lies over the crisis in Ukraine.
“Rasmussen is nothing but a paid puppet doing Washington’s bidding,” Finian Cunningham wrote in a column for Press TV website in reaction to Rasmussen’s recent threats of action against Russia following Crimea’s secession from Ukraine.
“His job is not to protect Europe, as the NATO literature claims. His job is to incite insecurity and, if need be, an all-out war, in order to serve Washington’s agenda of keeping Europe and Russia divided,” Cunningham wrote.
He said Rasmussen has been “telling lies” in a bid to “incite war in Europe with Russia” in the hope of pleasing the United States.
“Such is the busy life of a puppet on a string, bouncing in step with the tune called by his master. From here on, Rasmussen should be re-branded as the ‘Fogh of War’, wrote Cunningham.
The analyst added that the Ukraine crisis resulted from the US-EU coup in that country in February.
“That coup brought a rag-tag fascist junta to power, which has openly threatened ethnic Russians mainly in the east of Ukraine,” he wrote.
“And thanks to European puppets like Rasmussen, the rest of Europe is now being forced into a contrived conflict with Moscow,” said Cunningham. — Press TV.