Like Clockwork, Russia Cuts Gas to Ukraine in Winter

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 11/27/2015 01:30:00 AM
There are certainties in life that mark the turn of seasons: Cherry blossom season begins in Japan as March gives way to April. Oktoberfest begins in mid-September in Germany. Meanwhile, in Eastern Europe, the Russians will cut gas off to Ukraine as the coldest winter months begin over delayed payments. It was ever thus: even before the Russians commenced military adventures there, Ukraine always felt the brunt of gas being cut during winter. Ho-ho-ho, merry Christmas.

You don't have to be a cynic to wonder why Russia never cuts off or slows the gas supply to Ukraine during, say, the summer months. For what it's worth, the same thing is happening again without or with Western sanctions now:
Russia's state-controlled gas company is halting supplies to Ukraine, its chief executive said Wednesday, less than two months after the two countries struck an EU-sponsored deal. Gazprom's CEO Alexei Miller said Russia sent the last shipment to Ukraine at 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday and send no more because Ukraine has not paid in advance for future supplies.

Russia resumed gas shipments to Ukraine less than two months ago after the two countries signed an EU-brokered deal ensuring supplies through March. The Gazprom chief said Ukraine had been buying up gas to store for the coming winter in the past two months but said it was not enough to get it through the winter. Past gas disputes between Russia and Ukraine have led to cutoffs. One standoff in 2009 caused serious disruptions in shipments EU countries in the dead of winter. Temperatures in Ukraine where most homes rely on piped gas for central heating were below freezing Wednesday morning. 
In response, the Ukrainians are closing off their airspace to Russian airlines on top of preventing them from flying to Ukraine's airports:
Yatsenyuk also banned Russian airlines from using Ukrainian airspace, saying the move was “an issue of the national security as well as a response to Russia’s aggressive actions”. Ukraine had already banned Russian airlines from flying to Ukrainian airports, a move that Russia quickly reciprocated, meaning there are no direct flights between the two countries. However, initially, Ukraine still allowed Russian planes to fly over its territory. 
Same old, same old? Actually, the story is slightly more complicated than that. Ukraine's PM claims Gazprom is not refusing to sell gas to Ukraine. Instead, Ukraine simply does not need to buy more gas from the Russian firm since it will be buying gas from Western Europe on better terms. It's a great story and everything if it weren't for the fact that the West obtains most of its gas from Russia.
Russia’s Gazprom said it would not ship any gas to Ukraine until it received prepayment. Later on Wednesday, Ukraine’s prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, claimed that he had ordered the state gas company to stop purchasing Russian gas. “It is not that they are not delivering us gas, it is that we are not buying any,” he said.

Yatsenyuk said Kiev had been offered a better price by other European countries, who import gas from Russia but could then send it back to Ukraine. Earlier this week, Ukraine’s energy minister said the country had enough gas in reserve to last through winter.
So let me get this straight: Ukraine is boycotting the purchase of supplies from instead buying Russian gas from Western European countries? Somehow, I don't think this "punishment" is all that punitive for Russia.