EU Strikes Deal to End Russian Gas Freeze

Thousands of eastern Europeans left in the cold by Russia-Ukraine dispute
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2009 3:57 AM CST

(Newser) – Gas could be flowing back to a frozen Europe within days after Russian and Ukrainian officials agreed yesterday to an EU-brokered plan to have independent observers monitor pipelines, the Guardian reports. Russia cut off all its gas supplies via Ukraine Wednesday over a pricing dispute, leaving hundreds of thousands scrambling to stay warm in a deadly cold snap.

As many as 12 EU monitors will be sent to Kiev today to begin assessing the situation, although one eastern European diplomat said he fears the frigid weekend ahead could be a “looming humanitarian catastrophe” for the region—which relies heavily on Russian gas supplies and lacks the heating alternatives of western European customers like Germany.