英语新闻报导原文Words in the News一般是星期五在网上发表。
30 December, 2005 - Published 12:10 GMT
Russia and Ukraine gas price row
Talks are continuing today between Russia and Ukraine over gas prices before a Sunday deadline. Moscow has threatened to turn off gas supplies to its neighbour unless Ukraine agrees to pay more than four times as much for the fuel as it does currently. This report from Andrew Walker:
Ukrainian politicians claim there are political motives behind the price rise originally demanded by the Russian energy giant Gazprom. They say Russia is offering much more favourable terms to other former Soviet Republics. Russian officials insist it's a purely commercial matter.
Whatever the true motives, the dispute does underline the fact that Russia is likely to have an increasingly important role in the world energy market. Certainly, it will be possible for Russia to use its role as an energy supplier to reinforce its position in international politics. Russia's crude oil reserves rank in the top ten. Its gas reserves are the largest in the world. Western Europe is going to become more dependent on Russian gas for its heating and electricity.
Already some European countries get substantial amounts of gas from Russia through pipelines that cross Ukraine. Russia would be reluctant to anger such important customers by cutting supplies to them in a dispute with Ukraine. But the possibility of disruption at some stage is real.
And the Russian government has moved to take greater control over the industry. It has a majority stake in Gazprom and also has some important holdings in oil companies. It is also striking that one of the main themes for the summit of the G8 major powers that President Putin will host in July will be energy security. It is something the other G8 countries want and which Russia will have a key role in providing.
Andrew Walker, BBC Economics Correspondent
to reinforce its position
reluctant to anger
It has a majority stake
a key role