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Russia and Ukraine's Gas Dispute

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Post's assessment of the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine ["Mr. Putin's Cold War," editorial, Jan. 8] failed to reflect that this is not a crisis of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's making. It is the result of Ukraine's flagrant violation of its commercial and legal obligations as a transit country, set out in the agreement between Russia and Ukraine and as stipulated in Article 7 of the European Energy Charter.

Gazprom did everything possible to avoid the current situation, including making unprecedented concessions to Naftogaz of Ukraine. Gazprom even offered to set the gas price for Ukraine this year at $250 per 1,000 cubic meters -- almost half the prevailing price in Europe this month.

Unfortunately, Ukraine walked away from those negotiations.

Over the past 50 years, Russia has been a consistent and reliable supplier of energy to Europe. That record is now held hostage by Ukraine's illegal actions. We urge our European partners to tell Ukraine to allow Russian gas to be pumped through pipes in Ukraine so as to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.

DMITRY PESKOV

Press Secretary

Prime Minister's Office

Russian Federation

Moscow

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Anne Applebaum ["Short End of the Pipeline," op-ed, Jan. 13] made a compelling case for a unified and countervailing European Union stance on Russian natural gas. But the three energy options that she proposed for Europe were far from convincing.

Aside from cost and siting problems, nuclear power would mean using electricity in lieu of gas for space heating. "Clean coal" may not quite deserve the oxymoron label some environmentalists confer on it, but given such challenges as carbon dioxide management, it is far from being a technological reality. And liquefied natural gas presupposes enormous investments in shipping gas (probably from the Persian Gulf) and an extensive continent-wide and interconnected pipeline system for its distribution.

JOEL DARMSTADTER

Senior Fellow

Resources for the Future

Washington

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