Ukraine Faces 'Serious' Gas Situation

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Brussels called for talks with Russian and international monetary officials in an effort to avert a gas crisis stemming for Ukrainian economic troubles.

Jose Manuel Barroso, was confirmed for a second term as European Commission president.

Jose Manuel Barroso, who was confirmed for a second term as European Commission president, said the European Union would talk with gas and financial officials to help Ukraine pay for its Russian gas supplies, the Financial Times reports.

"We must not sleepwalk into another crisis," he said. "There is indeed the risk of a crisis in weeks, not months."

A January dispute over contracts and arrears between Kiev and Moscow forced Russian gas giant Gazprom to cut gas supplies for Ukraine. With 80 percent of Russian gas bound for Europe headed through Ukrainian territory, that row left European customers in the cold for weeks.

A settlement resolving the dispute requires Ukraine to settle its monthly gas debt by the seventh of each month, but Gazprom has expressed concern each month since January over Kiev's ability to come forward with the money.

Barroso told reporters the EU does not have the resources to meet Ukrainian requests for $4 billion to cover gas payments but said that was a matter best left to the international monetary regime.

"We don't have that money in the budget. We want to help our Ukrainian friends, but they have a structural problem," he said. "They're in a serious situation."

Source: UPI

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