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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Yushchenko Blames Tymoshenko, Urges 'Realistic' Budget Amendments

On Friday night, President Yushchenko addressed the nation, hitting the media circuit at prime time, when hordes of Ukrainian politicians go talk show shopping.

Naturally, he tried to blast his way through PM Tymoshenko’s vices and into the hearts of voters. He then made an urgent appeal to parliament to amend the budget so as to make it more realistic in view of the snowballing economic woes.

The thrust of the President’s rhetoric can be described as “the pot calling the kettle black,” with the notable exception of the gas issue and, yes, the dire need to fix the budget.

I decided to translate excerpts from his speech. Click here for the full official translation.

Dear countrymen,

I have made a decision to address you in order to provide a clear and honest assessment of the economic, budgetary, and financial situation in Ukraine.

I appeal to you, dear countrymen, to augment my demand to the Ukrainian government and the parliamentary majority to stop the torrents of lies, falsehood, and slander and to urgently, I repeat urgently, act to save the national economy.

The state has a totally unbalanced financial system.

State institutions are being knowingly ruined due to lack of funding. That is not to mention the personal accusations. I reject this mud.

Ukrainian industry is grinding to a halt. People are being laid off en masse or put on longterm furlough.

In Moscow, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko signed gas agreements disadvantageous for Ukraine.

The contracts do not meet my directives. The Prime Minister made the decision on her own, without the collegial opinion of the government.

The explanation must come from the majority that supports Yulia Tymoshenko — from her Bloc to the Communists.

The state is left holding the bag. The contracts have been signed and they must be honored.

In 2009, Ukraine has to pay 25 billion hryvnias more for gas than last year. Still, NAK Naftogaz’s revenues from transit services remain unchanged since 2008.

Every minute counts now.

I demand that amendments be made immediately to the State Budget 2009. This is the only way to rectify the situation. I warned the government and the parliamentary majority, key authors of the State Budget for the current year: The document you made is a castle built in the air.

As of today, the government has not collected even half of the planned January taxes and levies. Again, there is one cause: an unrealistic budget.

I appeal to Yulia Tymoshenko and her organized majority. This is your responsibility. Dear Yulia Volodymyrivna, you knowingly built into the budget the overblown figures and promises that you cannot fulfill today. The money is not concentrated but scattered, which includes the allocations made for the next [Soviet] savings payout.

On behalf of the entire country, I demand that the government and parliament immediately prepare an honest budget, where expenditures would fit the economy’s capabilities.

This is your constitutional, state, and political responsibility.

I repeat: The full brunt of responsibility, according to the Constitution, for the economic situation, for disrupting the budget process, for ruining the banking system, lies personally with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Having reached a critical point, she will not be able to hide in the opposition.

Enough lies.

I call on all countrymen to remain calm.

You will be protected. We have the ability to protect both the country and the people. Presently, the first and foremost important thing is to find the political will, courage, to pass a realistic 2009 budget for the country.

To achieve that, I will use every lever necessary in times of crisis.

Thank you for your attention.

Two hours later, Tymoshenko’s response appeared on the Cabinet of Ministers’ website.

The government and the parliamentary majority are working around the clock and, on behalf of them, I call on the President: If you are not helping, then at least do not interfere.

The world and Ukraine are in crisis. I will not sugarcoat the situation, nor will I let anyone sow panic.

To combat the crisis, we need political consolidation, a cold and sober mind, nerves of steel, a strong will, resolve, and a deep sense of responsibility — that is exactly what Viktor Andriyovych [Yushchenko] has always lacked, lacks, and will lack.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Kosmos Recalls Trip to Zoo, Likens Virgin Mary to Babushkas

This funny guy likes funny stories. And he rarely fails to interpolate his babushkas into them.

Kyiv Mayor Leonid “Kosmos” Chernovetsky: I was in my car on my way to work and then I recalled that I’m feeding an elephant, at a rate of 100,000 hryvnias…100,000 hryvnias...uh…per quarter or per month, I don’t remember. Anyway, he eats a lot, he’s lonely, he needs a wife, by the way. He hasn’t had a wife in 30 years, for that I fired….he’s very cute, a hunk…anyway, for that I fired…he’s such a cute elephant indeed…for that I fired…uh…that crook, the former head of the Zoo. Yeah, by the way, I started my work — cool, we have time, show it…on television channels — in my first day of work as mayor, I come to my office and I get this call: The lions ate…uh…a visitor, a male. Well, that’s a sad story. I prayed and then I drove to the Zoo in my Mercedes. I took [Deputy Mayor] Irena [Kilchytska], the darling of babushkas, with me. We arrive, I’m met by a completely drunk Zoo director, some 200 kilograms, his belly…pushing out so that he can’t see me. But there he stands like this [salutes audience] and says, “Hello, comrade Mayor!” And then he falls. [audience laughs] And then he leads me to the lions’ preserve. I come to this…uh…cage and I see this picture: The lions are lying content and finishing the visitor. [audience laughs] Oh my! That's your horror story of sorts. Ok, I…it’s not funny, of course, but what can you do? This is life. The lions are now being fed courtesy of my deputies.

And caaaaan you feeeeel the looooove toniiiiight...

Thou shalt not miss this one!

Chernovetsky: Mainly, they depict Jesus Christ, our Lord, that is, and…mother…his mother, Mary. What does she look like? I guarantee you that she looks like a Kyiv, like a Ukrainian, babushka. As for the Jesus Christ here, with a 100% probability, it’s a Kyiv dedushka. [audience explodes with laughter] Yes, I’m a cosmonaut, an absolutely real one. Everything I invented — it will all be implemented. You already see many changes, you will…the most important thing is psychological change.

The DSM-V would be incomplete without his case.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Political Funnies

Have a look at these six.

Puppet master: Firtash
Puppets: Yushchenko, Yanukovych, Yatsenyuk, Lytvyn


Poking fun at Chernovetsky's babushka business
Caption: "Don't even think about it, you Kosmic Gwynplaine!
Notice: "Dear babushka, please come the day after tomorrow at 2 a.m. for a free cremation.
Bring a notarized deed certifying the transfer of title of your apartment."

"Banzai!" buckwheat bombings
A handout delivery service for the beloved babushkas

Agent $450: Quantum of Service

Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Yatsenyuk Calls for 'Khrushchyovkas 2'

Arseniy Yatsenyuk: The only way to solve this is to actually build some sort of “Khrushchyovkas 2,” that is, cheap and affordable housing whereby, with funding from the community and with minimum down payments from these people, such people could be resettled.

Somebody get him his Lenin Prize in Architecture and Economics!

A much more effective way would be to build khrushchyovkas for the corrupt Ukrainian elites and resettle them to the Zone of Alienation for a year or two.

This program would breathe new life into the government’s anti-corruption efforts, facilitating affordable housing that meets the requirements of the 21st century.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kosmos Sings — Again!

He loves his job
He loves his babushkas
He owes the job
To the babushkas

They take his handouts
They take his songs
They vote for him
He can't be wrong

Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, let me present my nominee for Best Male Pop Mayoral Performance!

Kyiv Mayor Leonid “Kosmos” Chernovetsky:

Утро ворвалось в дом (Utro vorvalos v dom)
Мы с тобой вдвоем (My s toboi vdvoyom)
Любимая моя (Lyubimaya moya)

The dawn broke into our home
We're together alone
My dear loved one

Very nice music! I always listen to music and quietly…I sing to myself. Let me do a verse for you.

Утро ворвалось в дом (Utro vorvalos v dom)
Мы с тобой вдвоем (My s toboi vdvoyom)
Любимая моя (Lyubimaya moya)

The dawn broke into our home
We're together alone
My dear loved one

That’s the way it is.

Actually, it sounds more like a remix of Vyacheslav Bykov's original "Lyubimaya moya" song. In his remix, Chernovetsky mixes two lines from two different verses: verse 4, line 1, and verse 2, line 2.

But such nitpicking hardly matters to his target audience.

With wave after wave of Chernocopia descending on Kyiv, I bet he’ll garner his fair share of Grammys, uh, sorry, grannies, come next election. Well, he loves younger women, too.

He puts the job first, though.

Intoxicated with power and obsessed with taxes, he recently ordered city cemeteries to charge entry fees.

His daughter will run Krashche Zhyttya (Better Life), a company that buys apartments from elderly people and places the latter in retirement homes, where they will be treated to a diet of "caviar and pineapples."

Because Kyiv ranks above Brussels and Berlin in real estate prices, this business model may turn out to be yet another moneymaking machine.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gas Humor: Unstoppable!

Welcome to the latest edition of gas-related (mostly) user-generated content brought to you by!

Gazfilm: a parody on Mosfilm

R.I.P RosUkrEnergo
A pensive Yushchenko (left), accompanied by a mournful Yanukovych (right)
Festoon captions: "From Boiko," "From Putin," "From Firtash," "We love, we remember, we're calculating our losses."


A reference to presidential election 2010 and Euro 2012

Collages dedicated to Tymoshenko's allegations that Yatsenyuk seeks campaign financing from Firtash and that Yushchenko supported RosUkrEnergo:

Caption: "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"
Callout: "According to Central Election Committee data, the Firtash-Yatsenyuk Bloc scored 51 percent [of the vote]..."

"For the carrot, I'm ready to do everything, Master!"

"Citizens, beware: Got a kid? Raise him properly!"

"Queen of Gas: The Final Kiss"

Gas talks

A funny take on Kyiv Mayor Leonid "Kosmos" Chernovetsky's obsession with taxes, levies and devotional rhetoric:

A plane flies by - pay Leo!
A vessel sails by - pay Leo!
You take a breath - pay Leo!

God told me so!

Leonid Chernovetsky Bloc
The Truth Shall Prevail?

The poetry mimics the final verse in Arkady Gaidar's famous children's story Tale of the Military Secret, Malchish-Kibalchish and His Firm Word. It's a story of a Bolshevik boy, Malchish-Kibalchish, who fought the Whites and the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, in a role similar to that of the Wolverines in Red Dawn.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Tymoshenko Says $228.8

PM Yulia Tymoshenko:
As of today, we’ve already managed, using the formulas and considering the discount, to calculate the exact price of natural gas for Ukrainian consumers in 2009. The price, one that will be effective not on a quarterly basis and subject to change, but one that will be uniform for the entire year, starting January 1, 2009 — this gas price, meaning, as you understand, the price at the border, will be $228.8 per 1,000 cubic meters. For comparison shopping, you’ve been provided with a table where you can match the natural gas prices in friendly Poland against the natural gas prices that will be in Ukraine. At the same time, the transit rate will remain throughout the year 2009 at $1.7 per 1,000 cubic meters per 100 kilometers. The rate will remain [unchanged] because an agreement has been reached regarding a special rate for technical gas that is used in transit pumping. Said special rate for the volumes of gas to be transited is $153.9 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas. The $1.7 rate is justified given the discount rate for the technical gas, and it is a rate that makes it possible for the gas pipeline system to operate normally.

Gazprom tells a slightly different story.

It proceeds from a base price of $450/mcm as stipulated in the 10-year contract signed between Ukraine and Russia. (If that’s what EU countries pay — transit via Ukraine, Slovakia and the Czech Republic included — then why should those transit costs be included in the base price for Ukraine?)

Ok, the price will be revised quarterly depending on the 9-month average price of diesel fuel and black oil. In Q1 2009, Ukraine will get 20% off the base price of $450.

By contrast, throughout the year 2009, Ukraine will transit 120 bcm of Russian gas to the EU, at the 2008 transit rate of $1.7/mcm/100 km. (EU countries charge at least twice as much, don't they?)

Starting with 2010, Ukraine and Russia will fully commit to European pricing, the agreement says. (But why does Alexander Medvedev of Gazprom already say that the 2010 transit rate will be $2.4-2.6?)

So how does Ukraine benefit from this formula of bizarre pricing and asymmetric discounts?

Watch Tymoshenko’s Wednesday interview on Channel 1+1.

In the interview, she describes her gas deal with Putin as the best in Europe, links RosUkrEnergo to the Party of Regions (plus Yushchenko), and refutes the possibility of Ukraine’s default.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ukrainians Celebrate Unity Day

On January 22, Ukraine celebrates Den Sobornosti, or Unity Day, revived since January 21, 1990, when Ukraine was on its path to independence.

Today, young Ukrainians joined each other in a human chain, more than a mile long, on one of Kyiv’s bridges to symbolize the unity of Ukraine’s east and west.

In Donetsk, they released scores of glowing balloons into the evening sky.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Firtash Tells His Side of the Story

His name is Dmytro Firtash, or Dmitry, as he calls himself in Russian. He holds a 45% stake in RosUkrEnergo, the controversial middleman company that has supplied Ukraine since 2006 but has no place in the 2009 Russia-Ukraine gas deal.

He used to be the most publicity-shy oligarch in Ukraine. Until last Friday night.

It was then that he graced the airwaves on Inter’s “Svoboda,” apparently sensing RosUkrEnergo’s changing fortunes and yet exuding confidence and engaging in bossy behavior. (Interestingly, the show featured a "moment of truth" that somewhat confirmed rumors that Firtash controls Inter.)

At any rate, Firtash's debut on Ukrainian television made him the only oligarch to date to participate in a live talk show. Click here to watch the entire show.

Dmytro Firtash: The RosUkrEnergo Company is a normal company just like all other companies. It’s a company of stockholders. It’s registered in Switzerland. In this company, there are two stockholders: one stockholder, with a 50% stake, is Gazprom and the other stockholder is me. It’s a company that has a well balanced contractual base, that’s first of all. What does this contractual base include? It includes the purchase of Turkmen gas, 42 billion [cubic meters]; 8 billion cubic meters of Uzbek gas; and the rest is Kazakh gas. Plus, we can buy up to 17 billion [cubic meters] of Russian gas. That gives us a total of 62 billion [cubic meters] of Middle Asian gas and a reserve of 17 billion [cubic meters] that we buy from Gazprom. Now we’ll talk about where we sell it. Actually, for RosUkrEnergo, Ukraine is just one episode, and it may be not the most successful one. Why? Because RosUkrEnergo sells gas let’s see where: Romania, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Slovakia and England.

I came to Gazprom and said, “Guys, let’s sit down and do the right scheme. Let’s make everyone happy.” We calculated the volumes and figured how much gas Ukraine would take. We calculated that Ukraine would take in the neighborhood of 52 billion cubic meters of gas. Maybe up to 55, in case the winter is [too] cold. In doing so, we calculated how much gas needs to be exported to make money. I made…I managed to make money for myself and I managed to create a scheme with which I subsidized Ukraine. During the three years of RosUkrEnergo’s operation — 2005, 2006, 2006 and 2008 inclusively — RosUkrEnergo has made a subsidy of some 5 billion dollars. And that’s because the contract was right, because we, gentlemen, all together had fun, and footing the bill for this wedding, for this banquet, for this booze party, was Europe! Show me somebody else who has made such subsidies per year. Even if you consider me and Gazprom separately, I still put at least $2 billion of my own money on that table. Now tell me which one of you has done the same? Show me! And then I’ll tell you how much we love the Motherland. We all say “we love the Motherland, we love the Motherland.” Gentlemen, let’s do something. Let’s not love, but, rather, let’s do something. Are you with me on that or not?

Sure. Let’s do some questioning. Why? Because that’s a very eloquent yet highly evasive piece of rhetoric. It raises more questions than answers.

He says, “Actually, for RosUkrEnergo, Ukraine is just one episode, and it may be not the most successful one.” Really? Would there be any such thing as RosUkrEnergo without Ukraine, in the first place?

Couldn’t Gazprom do it all on its own? Doesn’t Gazprom buy Middle Asian gas in its own right? Why the middleman? (Vice Premier Oleksandr Turchynov raised these questions during the show but received no response.)

Is it true that when RosUkrEnergo became Ukraine’s supplier in early 2006, they didn’t even have a website?

Would a company registered in Zug, the world-famous Swiss tax haven, be allowed such preferential access to the gas pipeline and storage facilities in, say, France or Germany?

Compared to these countries, how much did RosUkrEnergo pay for transit and storage while using Ukraine’s state-owned gas pipeline and storage facilities?

Finally, is there a relationship between RosUkrEnergo and the Party of Regions?

With Firtash thumping his chest and trying to steal the show, he and Vice Premier Turchynov came to blows in a heated spat.

At one point, reacting to Firtash’s increasing assertiveness, Turchynov shot back, 135:20 into the show:

Vice Premier Oleskandr Turchynov: Mr. Firtash, I beg your pardon, may I…you know, we all have gotten a sense of how Gazprom works for us and I want to correct your speech a little bit. You’re saying you were invited here. You’re the one who invited us here, because you’re actually the one who owns this channel, that’s first of all. We’re participating in your show, that’s second of all.

Firtash did not contest the channel ownership charge, letting it sink in.

He had knocked Turchynov out early on, 23:52 into the show.

Firtash: Now let me respond to what you said regarding my bio. Let me finish. As I understand, you’re referring to Mogilevich? Do I understand correctly what you wanted? What is there to be shy about? Gentlemen, let’s get a better grasp of what we’re talking about. It’s your one and only trump card! You’re the one who spun this subject. Now let me answer this question for you very clearly. Let’s see who the chief of the SBU was in 2005. Wasn’t it you, sir? You were the chief of the SBU! I have a question: Had I been connected with Mogilevich and had I had a relationship with him — a direct one — then the man who runs the SBU (I’m not the one who runs it, you’re the one who runs it!), who does work in the SBU (right?), but then somehow, in a manner that defies comprehension, all the files get lost, all the criminal cases get lost. And what happens? Everything’s burned! I have one question: Had I been involved in this (and your Prime Minister [Tymoshenko] keeps accusing me of this all the time), had there been something on me out there, wait a minute, you would have probably worked this issue out, you would have submitted these files. Which means I have a different impression, my dear comrade: There are files on you out there and you have something to do with this [destruction of evidence] directly. You did not want to respond and you’re lying, just like you’ve been doing it all your life.

I watched the show live and found the tit-for-tat very thought-provoking.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Vodokhreshcha: Yushchenko Ice-Swims, Tymoshenko Flies to Moscow

Today, the Orthodox world celebrates the Feast of Theophany, known as Vodokhreshcha in Ukraine.

As expected, President Yushchenko performed his annual ice swimming ritual. Kyiv Mayor Chernovetsky followed suit.

Opposition leader Yanukovych, who prides himself on adhering to the same practice, called in sick.

Meanwhile, PM Tymoshenko flew to Moscow to sign the gas deal. According to some reports, the deal includes a quarterly revision clause that will revise the gas price paid by Ukraine based on the fluctuating price of oil.

The deal reportedly leaves RosUkrEnergo in the cold.

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All photos courtesy of the President’s press service

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Putin, Tymoshenko Outline Gas Deal

Or 'Gas King' Meets 'Gas Princess'

They’re walking down the aisle of destiny. Tonight’s the night.

Russian PM Vladimir Putin: Good evening! We want to inform you that, in the course of the talks, we’ve managed to reach…an agreement stipulating that, in natural gas trade, Russia and Ukraine are switching to the European pricing formula. In doing so, we agreed that in 2009 the Ukrainian partners will receive a discount of 20 percent, provided that the discount transit rate for transporting Russian gas to European consumers through Ukraine’s territory in 2009 will remain at the 2008 price level. That said, we also agreed that, starting January 2010, we will entirely and completely switch to pricing and transit pricing in full compliance with European standards, without any confiscations and discounts pertaining either to the transit or to the gas prices.

Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko: Yes, the talks were quite uneasy, but we came to a mutual understanding that makes it possible to sign all the contractual documents. We gave orders to the chairman of NAK Naftogaz, and Vladimir Vladimirovich gave orders to the chairman of Gazprom, to have the entire set of documents prepared by Monday and to have everything framed as it was agreed upon today during the talks. Moreover, immediately after the signing of all the documents on the transit of gas, on the purchase of gas, all flows of gas transit to Europe, all gas supplies to Europe, will be restored. I think today the day has passed, in my opinion, in a rather productive manner, and the summit that was gathered…uh…it has produced its results and all mutual understandings have been reached.

Putin: In the near term — and the Ukrainian side has assured us of that — the transit will be restored. Thank you.

Tymoshenko: Thank you. Goodbye.

Don’t you just love her fighting spirit? She’s the queen of the night!

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Gas [Or]Deal 2009: $360/$1.7 (A Preview)

During talks in Moscow on Saturday and early Sunday, Ukrainian PM Tymoshenko and Russian PM Putin appear to have approached a long-awaited gas deal.

Under the deal, to be finalized Monday, Ukraine gets 20% off Russia’s assumed asking price of $450/mcm while Russia retains the $1.7/mcm/100 km transit rate it paid in 2008. Starting with 2010, both countries switch to market pricing.

In the meantime, Ukraine will pay 80% of what Russia considers the going European rate for gas, pointing to Ukraine’s western neighbors.

By contrast, Russia will pay less than 50% of what Ukraine considers the going European rate for transit, based on the fees paid by the EU countries Russia quotes. (Ukraine transits up to 80% of Russia’s gas exports to the EU, over a distance of 1,240 km, or 770.5 mi.)

At the end of the day, Tymoshenko hardly emerges triumphant in what appears to be a win-lose outcome in the gas war between Russia and Ukraine.

As a presidential hopeful in the 2010 election, she now has to pass on the political price to Yushchenko, who had clung to a bid price of $201/mcm. His bid had come $49 short of Russia’s New Year ask price of $250/mcm. After the talks collapsed, Russia withdrew the offer, raising the price to $418/mcm and, later, to as high as $450/mcm.

Slapped with $360/mcm, Ukraine will struggle to minimize its losses, relying more on coal and boosting domestic gas production. The gas reserves provide a few months’ buffer stock, amid lower demand from the country’s crisis-stricken industry.

Some may even see a silver lining: The oligarchs will now have more incentive to invest in energy efficient technology rather than siphon their profits to offshore banks.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Yushchenko, Tymoshenko Talk Gas

Enjoy this battlefield report.

Narrator: Ukraine is not to blame for Europe’s freezing. To get this point across to the European Union, President Yushchenko decided [Wednesday] to raise the gas issue in Poland. In a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczyński, Yushchenko stated that the gas transit applications that Russia has been sending during the last two days cannot be fulfilled by the Ukrainian gas transit system technologically. Only if Russia provides 55 billion cubic meters of gas [annually] will the transit to Europe be renewed. Ukraine is ready to prove its non-involvement in the illegal siphoning of Russian gas in a court of law.

President Yushchenko: Ukraine has no complicity whatsoever in the non-delivery of Russian gas to European consumers. We do not accept any charges on this account. If our partners from Russia have any proof of this issue, we ask them to go to court, to a court of arbitration, as the existing agreement stipulates. The Ukrainian side did not turn off any technological faucets, did not take any steps whatsoever that would block the supply of Russian gas to Europe.

Narrator: The President of Poland, after a two-hour eye-to-eye conversation with Viktor Yushchenko, said that Poland trusts that Ukraine is not to blame for the gas conflict. Because the Polish side has not suffered in the conflict, Lech Kaczyński said that the country intends to sue neither Ukraine nor Russia.

One can hardly consider Ukraine beyond blame as long as we have middlemen like RosUkrEnergo that lack transparency.

But the brunt of the blame indeed goes to Russia. Ukraine cannot deliver the gas that Russia keeps playing with while dreaming of that pipeline.

Yushchenko called Medvedev Thursday, requesting that Russia supply 330 mcm of “technological” gas to ensure circulation in the pipeline and facilitate transit to Europe. (Putin later denied Ukraine’s request, suggesting that the matter could be resolved by an international consortium that would lease Ukraine’s pipeline or privatize it.)

Medvedev counter-offered that Ukraine supply Europe from its own reserves and swap those supplies for incoming Russian gas later. (Ukraine has not accepted this counteroffer.)

Russia wants Ukraine to pay $450/mcm and calls for a gas summit to be held in Moscow.

Ukraine, in turn, quotes the following price range, which it bases
on Gazprom’s contracts with neighboring EU countries:

$192.6/mcm at a transit rate of $2.2/mcm/100 km
$218.8/mcm at a transit rate of $2.47/mcm/100 km
$235/mcm at a transit rate of $3.6/mcm/100 km
$250/mcm at a transit rate of $4.0/mcm/100 km

Ukraine also appeals to Russia to reach an interim agreement that would spell out the quantities of “technological” gas, and the mutually acceptable routes, needed for gas transit to Europe. As a gesture of goodwill, President Yushchenko said this:

President Yushchenko: Ukraine guarantees [the transit of] 300-410 million cubic meters of gas to consumers in Europe — even without a transit contract, even without charging transit fees until the matter is fully resolved — to secure the supply of this gas to European consumers.

Some believe PM Tymoshenko will fly to Moscow Saturday to break the ice and claim credit for the breakthrough — sponsored by Putin — who bet on her in Ukraine’s 2010 presidential election.

So far, Tymoshenko has not broken the patriotic line held together with Yushchenko.

PM Tymoshenko: 18 billion cubic meters of gas [reserves] make it possible for us to hold talks in absolute tranquility today, to hammer out, in absolute tranquility, a set of contracts between Ukraine and Russia that would completely secure the implementation of the [2008] memorandum signed between the governments of Ukraine and Russia. 18 billion cubic meters of gas will be enough for us to hold such talks in a calm state of mind, without undue haste.

I can only add that unless Ukraine speaks with one voice, there will be no win-win.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

More Gas Cartoons

The gas war rages on, spawning yet more cartoons.

The first cubic meters of gas have crossed the Ukrainian border
Border guard: "Hold it! Who goes there?"
Works by Russian cartoonist Sergey Elkin (spelled Yol-kin)


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ukraine vs. Russia: Vote Online!

If you support Ukraine, click here and cast your vote.

Ukraine needs your support!

I received this link from Jest nas Wielu of Ucrânia em África.

Russia Strikes Ukraine With Surgical Gas Supplies

Russia on Tuesday resumed gas supplies to Europe.

Not exactly.

Russia on Tuesday sent technologically problematic quantities of gas on a route that made their transit to Europe problematic.


  • Disrupt the pipeline’s operation
  • Isolate eastern regions
  • Drain Ukraine’s gas reserves
  • Prove the pipeline “doesn’t work”
  • Make the pipeline “the problem” in the eyes of the EU
  • Put pressure on Ukraine to sell the pipeline Belarus-style

It’s that simple.

“From Russia with gas,” as the saying goes.

P.S. DEPA, the Greek energy company, plans to sue Gazprom. Meanwhile, Moscow blames Washington for pulling the strings in the gas conflict.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lytvyn: "Prime Minister of Ukraine, Volodymyr Volodymyrovych Putin"

Verkhovna Rada Speaker Volodomyr Lytvyn: We were received by the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Volodymyr Volodymyrovych* Putin, right after an hourlong…[audience giggles]…of Russia, sorry. Hahaha!

*Name and patronymic transliterated from Ukrainian; transliterated from Russian, the name is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

Sounds like a juicy Freudian slip from the man who served as Kuchma’s chief of staff!

More news. Russia on Tuesday resumed its gas supplies to the EU — in small portions — causing technological problems in Ukraine. Gazprom claims Ukraine is so full of Russian gas that Naftogaz must transport the incoming gas to Ukraine's western border the moment that gas crosses Ukraine's eastern border. (Or at the speed of light, as the laws of physics suggest.)

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso called Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to express his regrets about the size of the shipments.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych of the Party of Russia, uh, sorry of Regions, set out to sack PM Yulia Tymoshenko and impeach President Viktor Yushchenko.

ProFFessor Yanukovych must have discovered the magic Kremlin formula: “If you can’t gas ‘em, fire em!”

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Ukraine Signs Gas Transit Protocol on Russia’s Terms

Ukraine on Monday signed the trilateral gas transit protocol on terms demanded by Russia, supposedly paving the way for a renewal of Russian gas supplies to the EU.

Earlier, Russia had denied any responsibility for the shutoff, laying the blame on Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the pricing dispute between Ukraine and Russia remains unresolved.

Russia wants Ukraine to pay $450 per thousand cubic meters (mcm) of gas, which it considers the average European rate. Still, Russia pays only $1.6/mcm/100 km for transit, or less than half the average European rate, as comparison shopping suggests.

As of January 2009, the Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, pays $450/mcm, based on a fluctuating rate, Jaroslav Basta, the Czech ambassador to Ukraine, said in an interview with Kommersant.

By contrast, neighboring Slovakia pays $270/mcm but charges upwards of $4/Mcm/100 km for transit, all rates being subject to confidential bilateral agreements.

Ukraine quoted the $270/mcm rate during closed-door gas talks with Russia, ambassador Basta said. “Obviously, the price of gas for Ukraine will have your independence factored into it,” the Czech ambassador added.

In 2008, Ukraine paid $179.5/mcm for Russian gas, charging $1.6/mcm/100 km for transit.

Ukraine transits approximately 80 percent of Russian gas exports to the EU, over a distance of about 1,240 km (770.5 mi).


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Ukrainians Cast the Gas Dispute in Collage

Battle of the Brands: Gazprom gets the finger from Naftogaz

As Russia demands the European rate for gas — while paying half the European rate for transit, cutting off supplies to Europe, and painting Ukraine as unreliable — some Ukrainians fight back.

Or, rather, paint back, as this collection of collage illustrates.

A butt-shaped Gazprom lighter logo

A collage based on a Tymoshenko wallpaper and a verse from Sergei Mikhalkov’s children's poem “А что у вас?” (“And What Have You Got?”):

- А у нас в квартире газ!
А у вас?

- А у нас водопровод!


In our apartment we’ve got gas!

And what have you got?
We’ve got plumbing!
Ain’t that something?

Two years ago, the verse became a witty household joke describing the Russia-Ukraine gas war(s):

- А у нас в квартире газ!
А у вас?

- А у нас газопровод!

In our dwelling we’ve got gas!
And what have you got?

We’ve got a pipeline!
Doesn't it sound fine?

[translation mine]

La Lupa Cremlina: The Kremlin Wolf breastfeeding the pro-Russian Party of Regions and the Communist Party
A Ukrainian take on the Capitoline Wolf (La lupa capitolina)

Gasmen at Rest: a parody on Vasily Perov’s Hunters at Rest
Alexander Medvedev: “And then I come out with: ‘Pay 450 bucks for a thousand cubic meters!’”

Vladimir Putin: “Once upon a time, the Ukes decided to get rid of RosUkrEnergo…”
Alexei Miller: “Straight from under the pine I whine: ‘Pump that gas to Europe for free! But don’t you take any of it!’

The Vladimir Putin production center presents:
an album by the group Gazprom

“The Gas Oldies”

New bonus track from Alexei Miller: “$450”

(Pictured: Alexei Miller, Sergei Kupriyanov, Alexander Medvedev)

The Lord of the Gass: They're Taking Away Our Precccious

The Gazfather

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Russia Cuts Off Gas Supplies to EU Via Ukraine

As of 7:44 a.m. Kyiv time, Russia completely terminated its EU-bound gas supplies via Ukraine, Ukrainian media reported.

Russia issued a full denial, blaming Ukraine for the cut-off.

In a letter to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko offered reassurances that Ukraine does not siphon Russian gas but relies on its own reserves.

To verify this claim, Yushchenko welcomed the EU to send its observers to Ukrainian gas transit facilities.

José Manuel Barroso and Ukrainian Premier Yulia Tymoshenko have agreed on the arrangement, the Cabinet’s press service said.

Talks between Ukraine and Russia will resume Thursday.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

З Різдвом Христовим! Merry Christmas!

Ukraine and the Orthodox world celebrate Christmas on January 7.

On Christmas Eve (Sviaty Vechir), Ukrainians gather for Sviata Vecherya (Holy Supper), traditionally served with twelve dishes symbolizing the twelve apostles.
(Learn more about the Ukrainian Christmas tradition here and here.)

Enjoy more Ukrainian carols! (Click here, here and here, for previous editions.)

Vertep in Kyiv

The incredible Veryovka Choir

Connecticut's Chorale Ensemble "Yevshan" at St Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church, Hartford, Connecticut, January 13, 2008 Directed by Alexander Kuzma

Pikardiyska Tertsia performs "Malanka"

Pikardiyska Tertsia performs "Oi, Raduysya, Zemle" ("Rejoice, O Earth")

Z Rizdvom Khrystovym! Merry Christmas!