The dispute between Russia and The Ukraine over gas has escalated.
Russia shut off all gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine on Wednesday — leaving tens of thousands of people in more than a dozen countries without heat during a winter cold snap. The EU accused both nations of holding consumers hostage in their contract dispute.
The effects of the gas cutoff reverberated across the continent, where some countries have substantial reserves and others do not.
In the Balkans, people celebrated Orthodox Christmas in churches lit by candles and scrambled to find other sources of heat for their homes as authorities cut off some gas to conserve supplies.
Schools and kindergartens in Bulgaria closed down because utilities needed time to switch to alternative fuels. In Bosnia, where gas operator Sarajevogas said the situation was close to a humanitarian disaster, woodcutters revved up their chain saws to cut wood for fireplaces.
Romania, Bulgaria and other countries held national security meetings to address the issue, while Hungary and Slovakia, which receives all of its gas from Russia, began reducing natural gas deliveries to big industrial customers.
“It is unacceptable that the EU gas supply security is taken hostage to negotiations between Russia and Ukraine,” EU spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen said, demanding an immediate resumption of gas supplies.
Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom, which had sharply limited supplies through Ukraine on Tuesday, stopped all remaining gas shipments through the country as of 7:44 a.m. (0544 GMT) Wednesday, Ukraine’s gas company Naftogaz said.
The list of countries that have seen their gas cut off totally or in part include- Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Austria, France, Germany, Hungary and Poland.
I have a hard time sympathizing with Russia. They threatened to do the same in 2006 but backed down. This time they went all the way, and how many lives will be put in danger? This is an economic act of war and countries have begun fighting over less in the past. I don’t expect that to happen today but Russia has to be rebuked for this. How? I don’t know but it has to be done or Russia will bully most of Europe again.