Russian leader Vladimir Putin has threatened to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine unless it starts repaying a huge debt and unless the EU agrees to joint talks on its economic future, EUobserver reports.
He said in a letter sent to 18 European leaders on Thursday (10 April) that “in the event of further violation of the conditions of payment, [Russian firm Gazprom] will completely or partially cease gas deliveries.”
He noted: “Undoubtedly, this is an extreme measure. We fully realize that this increases the risk of siphoning off natural gas passing through Ukraine’s territory and heading to European consumers.”
He added that “in order to guarantee uninterrupted transit, it will be necessary, in the nearest future” for Ukraine to buy $5 billion worth of gas to be pumped into its storage vats.
Ukraine stopped making regular payments for Russian gas in August 2013 and now has $2.2bn in overdue debts to Gazprom – meaning that the price rises were stipulated in the contract, he said.