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Valves of gas pipeline at a station not far from Kiev.
Andrey Sinitsin/AFP/Getty Images
Ukraine in ‘emergency’ talks with European neighbors over gas imports
Ukraine president says country could get natural gas from Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, after Russia spikes price
April 4, 201411:38AM ET
Ukraine is in "emergency" talks with its European neighbors on the possibility of importing natural gas from them, after Moscow sharply increased the price of natural gas to the country twice this week, almost doubling it in three days, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Friday.
Yatsenyuk said Friday that Slovakia, Hungary and Poland were the main candidates from which Ukraine could get natural gas through what are known as reverse flows, which involve sending Russian gas back down pipelines used to transit it through Ukraine to other European countries.
However, Valery Nesterov of Moscow-based Sberbank CIB said reverse gas flows from Europe to Ukraine would represent only about 8 percent of Ukrainian demand. Ukraine covers 50 percent of its gas needs with Russian supplies and also acts as a transit country for onward supplies to European Union countries.
Russia's previously discounted gas price to Ukraine had been part of Moscow's strategy of keeping Kiev's center of political gravity to the East and countering any leanings toward closer ties with Europe, which were the focus of the protests that ultimately brought down Yanukovich.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and his officials said the Russian deployment to Crimea was within limits set by a deal with Ukraine on a Russian navy base in Crimea. But Moscow has never admitted that the thousands of troops who flooded the peninsula, seizing the airports and blocking the Ukrainian military at their bases, were Russian. They wore no markings, but some of them drove armored personnel carriers with Russian number plates.
Shoigu argued that Crimea faced "a threat to civilian lives and the threat of a seizure of the Russian military infrastructure by extremist organizations," so Russia "took decisive actions" and "beefed up security of Russian military infrastructure in Crimea." He stopped short of giving details, but said the military "managed to prevent bloodshed."
Shoigu also dismissed claims that the Russian army has mistreated Ukrainian servicemen as "improper and provocative." Several senior Ukrainian officers, including a military base commander, were briefly detained by the Russian forces and kept in custody for several days.
Situation remains dangerous
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned that Europe should not relax in preparing tough economic sanctions for possible use against Russia because he said very large numbers of Russian forces remained on Ukraine's eastern border.
"It's very important for us to remain strong and united about the sanctions that we have implemented against individuals in Russia and Crimea, and to prepare more far-reaching measures if they become necessary," Hague said. No decision would be made at the two-day session in Athens, he added.