The Next Gas Crisis Awaits

Europe’s sigh of relief at the supposed end of the dispute between Russia and Ukraine over gas pricing was audible here in Kyiv. But the settlement raises more questions than it answers. By placing Ukraine’s energy needs in the hands of a shadowy company linked to international criminals, the agreement has planted the seeds of new and perhaps more dangerous crises.

As a result, I am challenging this deal in court and asked the members of my party to vote no confidence in the government. Let a public hearing before a judge reveal exactly who will benefit from this deal, and let parliament examine all of the agreement’s terms and secret protocols.

The settlement between Ukraine and Russia’s state-owned gas monopoly, Gazprom, is intolerable because Ukraine’s energy future has been placed in the hands of RosUkrEnergo, a criminal canker on the body of our state gas corporation. RosUkrEnergo was established in the last months of the regime of our former ruler, Leonid Kuchma. Yet it miraculously gained control of all of Ukraine’s gas imports from Central Asia. Under the deal agreed this week, it retains that control.

As one who worked in the gas industry before entering politics, I know that the gas trade in the countries of the former Soviet Union is riddled with corruption. During my premiership, my government sought to investigate RosUkrEnergo – to discover who precisely its owners are, how it gained a virtual monopoly on the import of Central Asian gas, and where its profits go. Now that I am not in government, that investigation has been shelved. Ukraine’s energy needs, and thus the certainty of energy supplies across Europe, will never be secure as long as gas transit is in the hands of secretive companies with unknown owners.