MOSCOW — Russia today sharply hiked the price for natural gas to Ukraine and threatened to reclaim billions previous discounts, raising the heat on its cash-strapped government.
Alexei Miller, the head of Russia’s state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom, said today that the company has withdrawn December’s discount that put the price of gas at $268.50 per 1,000 cubic meters and set the price at $385.50 per 1,000 cubic meters for the second quarter.
The discount was part of a financial lifeline which Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to Ukraine’s President, Viktor Yanukovych, after his decision to ditch a pact with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Moscow. The move fueled three months of protests which led Yanukovych to flee to Russia in February.
Meanwhile, NATO foreign ministers were gathering for a two-day meeting in Brussels to consider further steps in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, including measures to reassure the Baltic states, Poland, and Romania that the alliance would help guarantee their security.