Tymoshenko: 2009 gas deals with Russia saved Ukraine from man-made disaster

The gas agreements with Russia signed in 2009 saved Ukraine from a man-made disaster, said former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is currently on trial for damages to Ukraine’s interests allegedly caused by the deals.

Tymoshenko, 50, was arrested on August 5 on charges of signing “unfair” gas supply deals with Russia as prime minister in 2009 and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. She has repeatedly denied all the charges against her, saying they are politically motivated.

“A man-made disaster was awaiting us every day,” Tymoshenko said, adding that Ukraine benefited from the deals. “As a result of my actions corruption was removed from the gas sphere [in Ukraine],” she said.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov called on Wednesday for Ukrainians to keep their doors and windows tightly closed to save heat and to conserve gas when cooking because of Ukraine’s “enslaving” gas contract with Russia.

Kiev and Moscow are currently in a row over gas prices, with Ukraine trying to revise the 10-year agreement that ties the price for gas to the price for oil, which has been rising recently. Azarov has said the deal was unfair and that Kiev was overpaying up to $6 billion a year for the gas.

Last week Ukraine said it would cut Russian gas purchases to 27 billion cubic meters from 40 bcm this year.

The spat intensified this week when Russia, which exports most of its gas to Europe via Ukraine, said that the Nord Stream, which runs on the bottom of the Baltic Sea to Europe bypassing transit states, would start working next month.

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