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A gas pipeline worker checks a valve at the gas pumping station in Russia ©Reporters

Russia and Ukraine fail to resume gas deliveries to EU

Denouncing the Russia-Ukraine gas impasse as “unacceptable and incredible”, President Barroso has urged EU countries to consider legal action and called for concerted action to find alternative sources.

Earlier in the week Russia and Ukraine signed an EU-brokered agreement to resume natural gas supplies to Europe under the supervision of EU monitors. But the two countries continue to disagree over how this should be achieved. Russia and Ukraine called a summit for 17 January to discuss the situation. Commission representatives will also participate.

Russia stopped pumping on 7 January, alleging Ukraine was siphoning the fuel. Some 20 countries have been affected - especially in the Balkan region - where the cut-off has left tens of thousands of households in the cold and forced schools, hospitals and factories to close.

EU energy ministers convened an emergency meeting in Brussels on 12 January, calling on Russia and Ukraine to find long-lasting solutions to prevent such disruptions. They also agreed on the need to reinforce energy policy at the EU level. 

This is not the first time tensions between Ukraine and Russia have squeezed EU gas supplies. Similar disputes in recent years have shown the need to reduce the EU’s reliance on foreign energy, one of the commission’s top priorities.

The EU gets about a quarter of its natural gas from Russia, mostly through pipelines in Ukraine. The dependence varies widely though, with some countries relying on Russia for nearly all their gas. EU countries most affected by the cut in gas supplies are Slovakia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Austria and Hungary.

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