Kiev PM threatens court action, says Moscow steals Ukraine property

13th May 2014, Comments 0 comments

Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Tuesday his government would take Russia to court unless it agreed to a gas supply contract based on market prices.

As tensions mount with Russia over its supply of gas to and through Ukraine onto Europe, Yatsenyuk said Kiev wanted Moscow to settle their differences by basing the contract on "market conditions."

"If Russia rejects this, then we (will) bring Russia to court in Stockholm," the Swedish capital where Russian gas giant Gazprom has taken Ukraine to the international arbitration court in previous disputes.

"If I am not mistaken, they have 20 days left. This is the final call to Russia to sit at the negotiating table and find the solution," he said.

Flanked by European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso after talks in Brussels, Yatsenyuk added that if Russia cut the price back to the fairer $286 -- from the $485.5 per 1,000 cubic metres it charges now -- then Ukraine "will urgently pay (its) gas bill arrears," meeting a key Russian demand.

Gazprom said earlier Tuesday that Ukraine had until June 2 to pay $1.6 billion owing or Moscow would halt supplies.

In addition, from June 3, Gazprom will only supply gas for which Ukraine has paid for up front.

Yatsenyuk also charged that after annexing Crimea in March, Russia has stolen "tens of hundreds of billions of dollars" in Ukrainian property.

"They have stolen our fields; they have stolen our companies; they have stolen our onshore and offshore drills. We will see Russia in court," he said.

In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a letter to the top 18 European countries warning them that gas supplies could be interrupted and urging them to help pay Ukraine's debts.

The EU depends on Russia for a quarter of its gas supplies, with about half of that amount transiting Ukraine.

EU foreign ministers on Monday imposed sanctions on two companies which they said had been taken over in the Ukraine.

Barroso warned that it was not in Russia's long-term interest to continue its current policy towards Ukraine, given it has its own internal problems of stability.

"It is not good for the future of Russia to have this kind of confrontation with the EU," a major trading and investment partner, he said.

"If Russia continues with this kind of behaviour it will only contribute to its futher isolation in the world," he warned.

© 2014 AFP

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