Residents of Kiev will have to live without hot water until mid-October in order to help cut municipal gas bills, Ukrainian media reported Thursday.
"We plan to turn [the water off] in all homes so that the heating season will be steadier than our present calculations suggest [it otherwise would be]. At present, the state's gas supplies are strictly regimented and divided up among the regions," Dmitry Novitsky, the director of the city's housing and utilities department, said in comments carried by Ukraine's Vesti Reporter.
Novitsky also warned of the possibility that hot water could be kept off even longer, noting that authorities would decide whether to turn hot water back on by Oct. 15. At that time, he said, it may still be necessary to "switch to a harsher regime," the publication reported.
"In the end, we all must realize that the question of gas today is not so much a matter of energy independence as it is a matter of national security," Novitsky said, in apparent reference to the tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
Relations between Ukraine's Naftogaz and Russia's Gazprom have plummeted in recent months against the backdrop of perpetual diplomatic spats between Kiev and Moscow. In mid-June, Russia shut off gas supplies to Ukraine after both sides failed to agree on future delivery prices.
Currently, Ukraine's gas transit system is only transporting gas supplies destined for Europe.
Kiev has repeatedly complained that the fees Russia pays to transport gas to Europe are too low.
In mid-June, both sides filed claims against each other in a Stockholm arbitration court, with Gazprom on one side trying to recoup losses after it said Kiev failed to pay a $1.95 billion gas debt, and Kiev on the other seeking $6 billion for alleged overpayments to Gazprom.
As of Tuesday, hot water had already been cut off from 5,500 homes in Kiev.
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