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The Guardian: Blame Kiev not Moscow
The trouble with natural gas is you can't see it, touch it or even smell it (without malodorous safety additives). The only way to tell whether your supplier is diddling you out of a therm or two is when the pressure at the end of the pipe drops and the heating starts to pack up.
Unravelling who is blame when the pipelines stretch for thousands of miles and serve dozens of countries is therefore tricky. So far, most of us have taken at face value the conflicting explanations from Russia and Ukraine over who is to blame for the drop in gas reaching Europe. My colleague David Gow explains it much better, but broadly it seems Russia's Gazprom says Ukraine is syphoning off supplies bound for Europe to compensate for what it has lost through a commercial dispute between the two. Ukraine says Gazprom is responsible for turning off the tap to Europe.
There is probably a bit of truth in both, particularly now that Gazprom seems to have given up even trying to get gas through Ukraine into Europe. We hope to get to the bottom of this with some more reporting, but in the meantime, the economics of it all suggest it is time to start questioning motives in Kiev rather than Moscow.
As energy prices are weakening, it is hard to see why Gazprom would deliberately try to cut off Europe, its biggest customer. It seems far more likely that Ukraine is using the only weapon it has available to avoid having to settle its commercial dispute with Gazprom in a less confrontational way. This doesn't fit with the agreed western script which usually portrays Russia as the blackmailing bully and Ukraine as the plucky upstart, but it might just be time to revisit the script.