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A Japanese-made liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier is anchored near an LNG plant, which is controlled by state-run top natural gas producer Gazprom, on Sakhalin island near the town of Korsakov, about 50 km (31 miles) from Yuzhno Sakhalinsk, in this February 17, 2009 file photo.
A Japanese-made liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier is anchored near an LNG plant, which is controlled by state-run top natural gas producer Gazprom, on Sakhalin island near the town of Korsakov, about 50 km (31 miles) from Yuzhno Sakhalinsk, in this February 17, 2009 file photo.
(Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)

Gazprom to Ukraine: Pay up or else

We now know the price for the West’s continuing political influence in Ukraine: $2-billion (U.S.). The Russian president has made that clear in a letter to Europe’s leaders: Russia will stop supplying Ukraine with gas if the country fails to settle its unpaid fuel bill, outstanding since August last year. There are Russian tanks parked on the Ukrainian border playing an elaborate diplomatic game of “chicken,” but those are probably a distraction. Though there could well be a Russian incursion into Ukraine, the weapon is more likely to be a bailiff’s writ, demanding the seizure of thousands of miles of steel pipe in lieu of payment for gas.