Ukrainian Prime Minister Julia Timoshenko, (she of the halo of blond plaits) has been undoing the damage President Yushchenko caused with his 'can't pay, won't pay' stance adopted towards Mr Putin. After a special cabinet meeting it was announced that 'Gazprom may prepay Neftegaz Ukrainy [for] transit of Russian natural gas to Europe... ' Neftegaz will use the money to pay for late 2008 gas deliveries. A government press office said “The government had a special meeting on Monday evening in order to discuss the gas problem. The premier is tackling the gas problem right now.”
If the bill is not paid by the end of tomorrow then there is no legal basis on which Russia can supply gas for Ukrainian domestic consumption. Last time the bills weren't paid Russian gas transiting the Ukraine for delivery to other parts of Europe was siphoned off and used to meet domestic consumption. This behaviour was unattractive then but now, when the Yushchenko faction is pressing so desperately for the Ukraine's acession to NATO, they might care to think what we, who are NATO, think of their breaking contractual obligations, stealing our gas, and trying to stir up anti-Russian feeling.
It was not Russia that threatened gas supplies to NATO countries last time, but the Ukraine. If they want in on NATO they should understand that they need to show that they pay their bills and meet their contractual commitments. They should recognise too that NATO has reconstituted discussions with Russia on securing and optimising security and peace-keeping throughout Europe - east and west.
Silly behaviour based on dead ideologies and confrontations leads to economic and political marginalisation, falling levels of investment and technological change, and the reinforcing of alliances the silly behaviour was designed to undermine.