Russia shut off natural gas deliveries to Ukraine Jan. 1 over a price dispute, said Yuri Zarakhovich in Time. That’s bad news for Europe, which gets a fifth of its gas through Ukraine. So as Russian gas monopoly Gazprom and Ukraine “blow hot air,” millions in Europe “may soon feel winter’s chill.”
Europe has “bulked up” its gas reserves, but that will buy only a few days, said Canada’s The Globe and Mail in an editorial. For now, the EU needs to “ditch its usual caution” and try to mediate a multi-year, stable deal between Russia and Ukraine. But in the longer term, the West must “stop tolerating the Kremlin’s role as a direct player in the energy business”—a role it’s now using to “push Ukraine around.”
In this dispute, “determining who is right and wrong is a futile process,” said James Marson in Britain’s The Guardian. Yes, Russia is mingling commerce and geopolitics—punishing U.S. ally Ukraine for backing Georgia—but “the opacity and corruption of business in Ukraine” is part of the problem, too. Ukraine should deal with its own problems instead of relying on the increasingly tired “Kremlin ‘evil empire’ card.”
Russia and Ukraine won’t turn into “friendly neighbors any time soon,” but this is primarily a “market dispute,” said Steve LeVine in BusinessWeek online. Gazprom is betting that oil will rise to $60 a barrel, which translates to $350 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas. Ukraine thinks oil will trade around $40, which means $235 for gas. The “dispute has more bite” this year because both parties are in an “economic fix” as the global economy sinks.