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Ukraine Freezes After Russia Halts Gas Deliveries

Last week, Russia’s state-run gas giant and quasi-monopolist when it comes to European natgas supplies, Gazprom, announced it would not restart shipments of natural gas to Ukraine’s Naftogaz starting March 1 after the two sides failed to reach an agreement, Gazprom deputy chairman, Alexander Medvedev, told journalists.

Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine were supposed to restart on Thursday following a foreign court ruling aimed at ending years of disputes between Kiev and Moscow, including two halts to Russian gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine. But Gazprom unexpectedly refused to resume deliveries, returning the prepayment for supplies made by Kiev, claiming amendments to a contract had not been completed.

The decision came as the sides reportedly failed to extend a supplemental agreement to the current gas contract, RT reported.

“So far, the supplemental agreement to the operating contract with Naftogaz has not been approved, and that is a compulsory condition for launching the shipments,” Medvedev said. “So, we have to recover the amount paid by the company in full. And it is obvious that the shipments in March won’t start.”

In response, Ukraine’s state monopoly said that Gazprom had failed to deliver prepaid gas. Naftogaz is reportedly planning to claim damages for supply failure from the Russian energy major.

And while the long-running dispute may, but likely won’t, be resolved in court, Ukraine has suddenly found itself without heat and on Friday urged schools to close and factories to cut production, while residents shivered as the country strained to save on gas supplies.

The decision coincided with freezing temperatures all over Ukraine, and the government called on Friday for measures to reduce consumption.

Starting today, we recommended … to stop the work of kindergartens, schools and universities,” Ukraine energy minister Igor Nasalyk told lawmakers, while urging Ukrainian companies to adjust their operations to save gas, while power companies were ordered to switch to fuel oil where possible.

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