KIEV, October 11 (RIA Novosti) – Russia has hit back at Ukraine after the Ukrainian prime minister threatened to stop all natural gas imports from Russia within the next few years unless the current gas contract is reviewed.
On Thursday, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told RIA Novosti and Rossiya 24 TV channel that “Ukraine may stop buying gas altogether at that price,” warning Russia that “that is not an empty threat.”
However, later on Thursday, Natalia Timakova, spokesperson for Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, warned that Kiev’s attempts to review gas contracts would have consequences for Ukraine.
Azarov said Ukraine plans to end its dependence on Russian gas imports by boosting energy efficiency, cutting gas consumption, using alternative energy sources and increasing its own gas production.
“Before making such statements, our Ukrainian partners should take into account that sanctions may be applied in any unilateral review of contract terms,” Timakova said.
Kiev and Moscow have a long history of disputes over natural gas supplies – that hinge over price – and have been arguing over the terms of a 2009 gas contract for the past few years.
In a recent gas-related spat between the neighboring post-Soviet states, in January Russian gas giant Gazprom presented Ukrainian state energy company Naftogaz Ukrainy with a $7 billion bill, saying it should pay for gas not used in 2012. Under the 2009 contract, which cannot be adjusted to fluctuating demand, Ukraine must pay for at least 33.3 billion cubic meters of gas per year on a "take or pay" basis.