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    An employee tightens the valve on a pipeline at the Bilche-Volytsko-Uherske underground gas storage facility, the largest in Europe, not far from the village of Bilche village, in the Lviv region of western Ukraine, on May 21, 2014

    European Commission Tells Ukrainians to Forget About Cheap Russian Energy

    © AFP 2019 / ALEXANDER ZOBIN
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    Speaking at an international expert discussion on the development of the Ukrainian energy market in Brussels on Tuesday, EU-Ukraine Support Group representative Torsten Woellert suggested that Ukrainians must understand that the concept of cheap energy is a thing of the past.

    "Everyone in Ukraine knows that a situation of cheap energy subsidized by a third country, specifically Russia, is a thing of the past," Woellert said, adding that subsidies, if they are to exist, must be provided internally, "only there is a question about who should do so."

    The official warned Ukrainian authorities against 'engaging in populism' with regard to rising utility rates, but acknowledged that there are concerns over the ability of certain segments of the population to pay the increased tariffs. He emphasized that this was an issue which must be handled by Ukraine's social safety net, and by educating people about saving energy. 

    Last month, Ukraine's new government agreed to the demands of the International Monetary Fund to increase internal gas prices to market rates. Beginning May 1, the government abolished the subsidized rate provided during the winter season, with gas prices rising by 91%. Now households and businesses must pay a uniform rate for heating and hot water of 6,879 hyrvnia (about $270 US) per thousand cubic meters. 

    Household consumers have already complained that the rate, set to rise further beginning in July, was 'cannibalistic', with rural residents resorting to heating their homes, preparing meals and heating up water using wood stoves instead of gas.

    The rate hike was one of the conditions by the IMF for Ukraine to obtain the next tranche of the $17 billion loan agreed upon last year.

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    cheap energy, tariffs, gas prices, energy prices, European Commission, European Union, Europe, Ukraine, Russia
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