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Ukraine suspects gas pipeline sabotage

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 02:12

June 18 - Russia's Gazprom says gas flows to Europe are stable after an explosion at a Ukrainian pipeline, a blast Kiev suspects was an attack. As Joanna Partridge reports, there are some doubts about the strength of Russian firm Gazprom's hand in Moscow and Kiev's long-running dispute about what price Ukraine should pay for gas.

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TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**NONE** Ukraine's government is calling this a possible act of terrorism. It says a bomb was put under a pipeline carrying Russian gas to the rest of Europe. Ukraine believes it was sabotage - and it's increased tension as Kiev looks to end an uprising by pro-Russian separatists. Arseny Yatseniuk is Ukraine's Prime Minister. SOUNDBITE: UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER, ARSENY YARSENIUK, SAYING (Ukrainian): "We foresaw some weeks ago that sabotage action would be planned - the aim to undermine Ukraine's reputation as a reliable transit partner and legitimise the construction of the South Stream pipeline. Its goal is not diversification of gas supplies to Europe, but exclusion of Ukraine, which is one of the main transit countries to the EU." Yatseniuk has called for increased security on the country's gas pipeline network. But Ukraine can't rely on any help from Russia's Gazprom. Board member Vitaly Markelov. SOUNDBITE: GAZPROM BOARD MEMBER, VITALY MARKELOV, SAYING (Russian): "The gas transit system is owned by Ukraine, that's why we are not conducting any investigation, it's their business. The gas transit volume is the same as it was yesterday morning, it hasn't stopped." Gazprom cut off supplies to Kiev on Monday after it failed to pay off its gas debts and a new price agreement couldn't be reached. Ukraine says Russia's trying to block a deal. The EU's Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger is trying to bring the two sides together again before mid-July. For now, Ukraine and the EU have relatively high gas stocks following a mild winter. Russia is also trying to push forward its new giant South Stream pipeline which connects to Europe without going though Ukraine. But that too is facing obstacles. SOUNDBITE: EU ENERGY COMMISSIONER, GUENTHER OETTINGER, SAYING (English): "New routes by new investments are appreciated but South Stream does not solve our actual problems or our problems for the winter and for 2015 and 2016." The Commission asked Bulgaria's government to stop work on the pipeline, as it may breach an EU law preventing gas suppliers controlling pipeline access. If there's a delay, Gazprom may be as keen as Kiev to see an agreement reached over gas supplies.

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Ukraine suspects gas pipeline sabotage

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 02:12