Germany’s Merkel Agrees with ‘Angry’ Slovak Leader that Ukraine Bums EU to Pay for Russian Gas

But Merkel says EU taxpayers will have to subsidize Ukraine.

Eric Zuesse

On October 21st, the German Economic News  headlined (as translated), “Merkel: EU Taxpayers Should Finance Debt of Ukraine,” and reported that, “Angela Merkel visited [Slovakia’s Prime Minister] Robert Fico on Monday [in the Slovak capital of Bratislava]. Both leaders demand that Kiev should take more responsibility,” and not push the EU to pay Ukraine’s past-due gas bills from Russia’s Gazprom.

Ukraine’s leader, Petro Poroshenko, was “demanding” that the EU bail out Ukraine, which is months behind on its gas bill from Gazprom, and which furthermore has been getting Slovakia to reverse flow of Russia’s gas, in order to meet Kiev’s own heating-needs.

“Ukraine and Russia negotiate Tuesday morning in Brussels about the dispute over gas supplies,” to Europe, through Ukraine’s pipelines from Russia.

“Russia demands that Ukraine pay its past-due gas bill of $4.5 billion, but doubts Kiev’s solvency.”

Merkel proposes that the EU provide a bridge-loan to help Ukraine get through the winter. She says, “It could not be expected that the EU will take over Ukraine’s gas debt to Russia. Fico’s anger is understandable.”

BusinessWeek  headlined on Monday that, “Russia Won’t Accept Terms to End Sanctions Over Ukraine,” and reported that, “Russia’s top diplomat [Sergei Lavrov] said his country won’t accept [Obama’s and the EU’s] conditions to end sanctions after talks in Italy produced no breakthrough over the truce in Ukraine.” That truce is between the residents in Ukraine’s southeast, and the Ukrainian Government, which has been bombing them ever since May, in order to end their desire to break away from that Government and support instead their own republic or republics, set up by themselves. Those regions had voted at around 90% for the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, who was overthrown on February 22 in Kiev, after America’s State Department official Victoria Nuland appointed Arseniy Yatsenyuk to lead Ukraine until a new President would be elected by voters in Ukraine’s northwest, on May 25th. The people in Ukraine’s southeast wanted to join Russia.

Russia isn’t buckling to the U.S.-EU pressures. BusinessWeek notes that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, whose nation pipes about 15 percent of the EU’s natural gas needs through Ukraine, “said last week that supplies to Europe would be reduced if the Ukrainian government siphoned off fuel for its own use.”

So, Russia seems to be standing firm on getting its back-due payments from Ukraine, and on refusing to accept the West’s conditions for ending sanctions against Russia, and on prohibiting Ukraine from reverse-flowing any more of Russia’s gas.

Russia thus seems to be standing firm on everything pertaining to Ukraine and the EU. If this will keep up, then the EU’s taxpayers could end up paying a very hefty price for ‘winning’ Ukraine to join the EU.

The United States, by comparison, suffers very little from the entire matter.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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  • @Stredni_trida

    Robert Fico is Prime Minister of Slovakia and the correct name of Slovakia capitol city is Bratislava (not Bratislavia)

    • cettel

      Thank you for that, I’ve now corrected it. I had rushed the story.

  • Jay

    So let’s get this straight. Oligarchs and rentiers raid the Ukrainian economy, keeping wages below living wages. Ukrainian government ensures delivery of natural gas by stiffing its suppliers, and when that stops working, by reverse-flowing gas supplied to other parts of Europe. When Russia threatens supply cutoffs to those other parts of Europe, the politicians there suggest as a solution that taxpayers pick up Ukraine’s natural gas bills.

    No billionaires ever pay additional taxes. Or perhaps any taxes. No economies are ever restructured so that Ukrainians are paid enough to be able to afford their own gas bills. And in addition, the IMF and ECB saddle the Ukrainian Treasury–and subsequently ordinary Ukrainians–with billions to subsidize Ukrainian banks to keep them solvent and paying their obligations to Western banks. Resulting in privatization of Ukrainian public assets, utilities, and industries.

    It’s an amazingly elaborate, rickety Rube Goldberg device designed to allow billionaires to sidestep any responsibility, taxes, or diminution of their vast and growing privileges, regardless of economic conditions, political implications, or a tsunami of popular righteous indignation.

    Is that about right?

    • cettel

      That’s it: Ukraine couldn’t even pay its bills before they were sending all those men and bombs into their southeast to get rid of the Ukrainians who had voted there over 90% for the man whom Obama overthrew, and now the Ukrainian Government is even more bankrupt; and so the EU’s taxpayers will take the financial hit. So, who gains? What about Western arms-makers?

    • Sony

      Pretty much… yes.