He also doesn't know anything about a plump breasted speckled pigeon:
Yanukovich also commented on his ties to Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump’s embattled former campaign manager.
Manafort has been charged in the United States with conspiring to launder money, lying on his tax returns and failing to register as a foreign agent for lobbying work for Yanukovich’s party, among other charges.
Yanukovich said he had never signed off on payments to Manafort for his work as an adviser to him and his party.
“I did not sign off on any payments for his work and never discussed the subject with him,” Yanukovich said.
As noted in the news story the dispute is over money and the gas has been cut off three times before, starting in 2006. I suspect this one will go back into court but that Gazprom will not be able to get the contract cancelled. However, the contract expires next year anyway.
Ukraine has been taking advantage their position in the middle of the Soviet era pipeline network so that Gazprom has to deal with them. Gazprom's long term plan however is to build new pipelines which go direct to western Europe while bypassing Ukraine and Poland. That cuts those countries out of the loop in terms of being in control of the pipelines, as well as in terms of collecting transit fees. A significant chunk of Ukraine's foreign exchange earnings comes from the transit fees, so they are desperate to not lose that.
The latest dispute before a Swedish arbitration panel (not a court) had claims by Naftogaz (Ukraine) demanding $16 billion in transit fees, and claims by Gazprom for Naftogaz not buying gas they had contracted for. It sounds like they split the difference on the competing claims.
The Ukrainian pipeline company Naftogaz more than doubled the transit fees they charge Gazprom, and so Gazprom wants to terminate shipping gas via Ukraine by 2020, or at least drastically reduce the volumes in favour of other routes.
A senior Gazprom executive said that under no circumstances would Gazprom renew the existing gas transit arrangements with Naftogaz across Ukraine.
This argument was expressed most colourfully by Gazprom deputy CEO, Alexander Medvedev, in June 2015: he said that “under no circumstances”, even “if the sun will replace the moon”, will Gazprom enter into a transit contract with Naftogaz after 2019.
The Russian government told Gazprom to back down from that position, so now Gazprom said they will transit some gas across Ukraine, but not under the current "unprofitable, unfair, unacceptable" terms and conditions. Gazprom doesn't want to deal with Naftogaz because of what they see as Naftogaz's price gouging, but the Russian government knows that bypassing Ukraine entirely isn't realistic given the time left under the current contract to find alternatives.
In the summer of 2015 the Russian leadership changed its view on post-2019 transit, apparently having recognised the seriousness of political, regulatory and contractual limitations on Gazprom’s ability to end transit via Ukraine by that date. President Putin ordered Gazprom to carry out negotiations on a possible new transit contract with Naftogaz which would replace the existing transit contract upon expiry.
Putin’s statement was significant as it suggested a direct political intervention aimed at improving the gas relationship with Ukraine. Putin’s position was soon echoed by Miller, who said that there could be a new transit contract, but not on “unprofitable, unfair, unacceptable”
The main future alternative to transit through Ukraine has been the Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic. This is backed by German interests who want to cut out the middlemen, but opposed by Ukraine, Poland, and some other eastern European countries who stand to lose billions in transit fees. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline is already running and taking gas direct from Russia to Germany.
What we're seeing here in this case though is simply business negotiations, ex-Soviet style.
Also, contract to transition of gas throw Ukraine will be finished too, looks like before the summer. So, Ukraine without gas transit became not interesting for EU, and Russia get it back almost peaceful way.
Ukraine's Savchenko goes on hunger strike over detention
Savchenko on another hunger strike. This time it's not about the Russian unlawful detention but about detention by her own govt. Allegedly she's plotted/ing a coup. Admits wanting to overthrow the current leadership but not plotting a coup:
Speaking at a televised pre-trial hearing to determine the terms of her arrest, Savchenko said she would protest her treatment the same way she did her imprisonment in Russia.
“I will go on a hunger strike from today and again show all the unbelievers,” she said. “I will show the Ukrainian people what a hero is.”
She wore a black t-shirt with a trident motif - a national symbol in Ukraine - similar to her outfit while standing trial in Russia.
Court to decide whether to let her out or keep her detained later today. I find it hard to consider her a Manchurian candidate, but stranger things and all that:
In 2016, President Petro Poroshenko conferred on Savchenko the country’s highest honour, “Hero of Ukraine.” But on Thursday he suggested her alleged coup plot was a Russia-led special operation to destabilise Ukraine.
“All this is another reminder that a large-scale hybrid war is being waged against Ukraine,” he said in a post on Facebook.
Later on Friday, the court is expected to decide whether to release Savchenko pending trial or keep her in detention.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday after meeting his Austrian counterpart Karin Kneissl that they had discussed the possibility of the deployment of a peacekeeping mission in east Ukraine, the RIA news agency reported.
Lavrov was quoted as saying “we examined the role played by the OSCE in carrying out the Minsk accords, and the possibility of strengthening this role through the adoption of a United Nations Security Council resolution to guard the OSCE special monitoring mission.”