KIEV (AFP) – Ukraine warned on Friday that it will have to adopt deeply unpopular energy savings measures this winter should Russia fail to lift its suspension of natural gas sales to the West-leaning ex-Soviet neighbour.
Russia in June halted gas exports to Ukraine after Kiev balked at paying higher prices that Moscow demanded in the wake of the February ouster of a Kremlin-backed president.
Ukraine last year imported half of the gas it consumed from Russia. It is currently trying to make up for the difference by boosting imports from its western European allies.
Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan said the conflict-torn country will probably soon encounter severe energy shortages despite efforts to diversify its gas supply base.
“I think we can live through the fall and winter, although we will have to adopt some rather unpopular measures, including administrative ones aimed at reducing energy consumption,” Prodan told an international forum in Kiev.
He accused Russia of “using gas as a political tool” and reported a shortage of gas in the country’s underground storages.
Poland said on Friday it has resumed its so-called “reverse flow” gas deliveries to Ukraine after a brief interruption that it blamed on an unexplained cut in Russian supplies.
But its daily shipment of four million cubic metres accounts for just three per cent of the gas Ukraine consumed last year.