Energy 2 March, 2018 11:00 am   

A hybrid gas war is going on in Ukraine

Gazprom does not recognize the verdict in favor of Ukrainians. It does not supply gas despite the bonds resulting from arbitration. Ukrainian politicians warn that the pressure in gas pipelines on the Dnieper falls. All this takes place under the guise of full-fledged activities – says Wojciech Jakóbik, editor-in-chief of

Gazprom did not come to terms with the defeat in court. It announced that it would question the arbitration in favor of Naftogaz using “all legal means”. For now, it decided that it would fight for extra time in bilateral negotiations. The Russian company refused to supply gas to Ukraine from the beginning of March until reaching a provisional agreement in this matter.

Gazprom wants extra time

Naftogaz announced a court triumph over a Russian supplier. In response to the defeat at the arbitration court in Stockholm, Gazprom dismissed the verdict, announced the appeal and refused to deliver gas to Ukraine. However, it did not do it through an unannounced turning off a gas tap known from the gas wars of 2006, 2009 and 2014. It announced the fight with the use of all available tools – legal.

In this case, Gazprom used the rhetorical figure about the need to sign an additional agreement on the terms of delivery to Ukraine and returned the prepayment provided by the Ukrainians. – Acting in good faith, we returned the money received from Naftogaz Ukraine. Deliveries will not be delivered from March 1 – said vice president Aleksander Medvedev. It was an element of surprise, which, however, is harder to consider as a hostile act. Gazprom wants extra time, but in bilateral relations and regardless of the verdict of the court, which it does not recognize.

Gazprom is like a “street hustler”

Nevertheless, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin, reacted without mincing his words. He said that Gazprom behaves like a “street hustler”. – Gazprom has dropped to the level of the “street hustler”. It does not complete the arbitration in Stockholm, and at the same time reduces pressure in gas pipelines by non-compliance with obligations – the minister wrote on

Perhaps for this reason, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko called a special session of the National Security and Defense Council. – Gazprom has traditionally used the advantage of frost and demonstratively does not acknowledge the Stockholm arbitration award not only regarding the transfer of debts, but also the reduction of pressure in gas transmission pipelines – said the president of Ukraine confirming the words of Klimkin.

Test of strength of Ukraine

In the period of intensified gas consumption from storage facilities, it is more difficult to maintain the technological pressure of Ukrainian gas pipelines, what may threaten the security of supplies to Europe. Due to the hybrid gas war of Russia, it will be more difficult to blame the Russians for the possible crisis. Gazprom does not turn off the tap, at most it tightens it and lowers the trasit volume, which it may later justify it in various ways, in the first place by further questioning the arbitration findings in Stockholm. Gazprom may present a problem in legal terms, although it probably stems from the old, good policy of Kremlin blackmail in a new, more sophisticated version.

Enraged Klimkin also threatened to take over Gazprom’s assets. – We’ll get them. Their assets in Europe have been known for a long time – he tweeted. All confiscations must be carried out in accordance with the law. For Ukraine to keep its face in relations with the West, it must move within the limits of the law, which Gazprom learned, currently conducting a hybrid gas war with the pretense of full-fledged actions.

Operation of the Russians may also be aimed at testing the strength of the Ukrainian transmission system and the cold blood of the administration there. Kiev must maintain peace and full transparency, informing about the developments of the European Union through the Energy Community to which it belongs.

The European Commission must step in

Temporary agreements recalled by Gazprom were concluded under the tutelage of the European Commission in 2014 and 2015 after long-term trilogue talks. There was no such necessity since November 2015, when Ukraine gave up supplies from the Russians. However, the arbitration award imposes an obligation on Ukrainian Naftogaz to purchase 4 billion cubic meters annually. In recent years, the Commission has helped Ukrainians to get better price conditions for deliveries.

It is crucial for Poland

According to the President of Ukraine, the trilateral talks will soon start again. In the face of the escalation of the problem, the Commission should consider including in its talks its request to establish during the negotiations a minimum level of supply through Ukraine, which will guarantee the economic stability of the country. This may be important for the contested Nord Stream 2 project, that is also for Poland’s interests. For this reason, Warsaw should observe, and perhaps engage in, attempts to calm the gas hybrid war in Ukraine. Stability of supplies through the territory of the eastern neighbor will also be important for investment decisions of PGNiG and Gaz-System, who have already engaged in cooperation on the Dnieper, and also probe new opportunities.