Russia Threatens to Cut Gas to Ukraine

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Russia Offers Support for Absorbing Crimea; Pentagon, Kiev Discuss Closer Ties.

Yulia Tymoshenko - Putin

Russia used its biggest economic lever to ratchet up the pressure on Ukraine, threatening to cut off vital natural-gas shipments over allegedly unpaid bills. On the other side of the deepening East-West divide, the Pentagon said it had discussed the possibility of closer ties with Kiev for the first time.

The Kremlin also sent the strongest signal yet that it is preparing to absorb Ukraine’s Crimea region, welcoming its separatist leader to Moscow on Friday and endorsing his referendum drive.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, behind bars until a pro-Europe uprising ousted her political foe, President Viktor Yanukovych, last month, warned in an interview that the West was risking its credibility by not taking more forceful action to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty.

The U.S. and the U.K. in particular are guarantors to a memorandum where Russia pledged to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity when it gave up nuclear weapons in 1994, she noted. Both countries are now involved in nuclear talks with Iran.

“We’re not just talking about stability in Ukraine and beyond,” Ms. Tymoshenko said in Dublin. “The precedent of empty guarantees would mean that such a mechanism would lose credibility and will have no value whatsoever in other circumstances.”

The comments came as Secretary of State John Kerry headed home Friday after a fitful week of diplomacy in Europe, failing in a bid to arrange a meeting between Russians and officials of the new Ukrainian government.

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