Brussels (Brussels Morning) Ukraine warned on Friday that Russia’s Gazprom energy giant has suspended transit delivery of natural gas to Hungary via Ukraine.
The stoppage comes days after the company signed a long-term supply agreement with Budapest, Reuters reports.
Sergey Makogon, CEO of the Ukrainian Gas Transmission System Operator, pointed out that “the monopolisation of gas routes by Gazprom, which we are now observing, raises the question of the fundamental principles of the functioning of the EU gas markets”, citing competition and transparency.
“The strengthening of the dominant position of one player and their use of leverage for obviously political purposes against the backdrop of a shocking rise in gas prices in Europe must be stopped”, he declared.
Friction between Ukraine and Russia has mounted since the latter annexed Crimea in 2014. Ukraine has warned that Moscow is using energy as a political weapon and has pointed to the threat this poses for Europe’s energy security.
Ukraine has been a loud and vocal critic of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline which bypasses the country, having repeatedly warned that the pipeline serves to strengthen Russia’s position.
Diversification of supply routes
Russia has been shipping gas to Europe primarily through the Ukraine, but has constructed alternative export routes to Turkey (TurkStream) and Germany (Nord Stream) as part of its plans to bypass Ukraine.
According to the latest agreement with Hungary, Gazprom is to ship 3.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas to the country annually via Serbia and 1 billion cubic metres annually via Austria.
While Ukraine criticised Hungary’s deal with Gazprom, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán defended the decision, pointing out that Hungary needs gas.
“I respect Ukraine and wish the Ukrainian people much success,”, Orbán noted. “However, on the gas front I need to align with the interests of the Hungarian people, not Ukrainians.”
Orbán stressed that gas prices in Hungary would rise significantly without the agreement with Gazprom.