Kiev Must Pay the Price For Victimizing the EU

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The crisis between Russia and Ukraine that threatens gas supplies to Europe each year was caused by Ukraine's refusal to pay Russia what it owes and the attempts by Kiev to escape its responsibilities. Throughout this conflict Ukraine tried to put pressure on Europe, using it as a pawn in its economic dispute with Gazprom and to avoid paying the billion dollars Kiev still owes.

At the onset of the crisis, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko made multiple reassuring declarations affirming that Russian gas destined for Europe could continue to transit through Ukrainian territory -- regardless of what happened in the conflict with Moscow. We have seen what his promises are worth: The Ukrainians have not respected their commitment.

This manipulation of Europe by the Ukrainian government is even more questionable than it may appear. Each day it becomes more and more evident that Kiev's stance was driven by internal politics and rivalry among the top Ukrainian business clans. Yushchenko left the field free for Naftogaz to break negotiations and has continued to block attempts by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to mediate the conflict.

Europe should not have to pay for these mistakes. Europeans have been the victims of Ukrainian blackmail as well as Kiev's incapacity to insert itself into a global market economy and achieve political maturity. The envoy of European observers to Ukraine was an indispensable measure for the return to normality, but it is not sufficient in the long term. This situation cannot continue. We Europeans must think now about the future.

With regard to our supply levels, we must begin to work on finding diverse ways of transporting Russian gas to Europe -- for example, the Nord Stream project to transport gas through a pipeline under the Baltic Sea or the European Union- and U.S.-backed Nabucco pipeline, which envisions transporting gas from Azerbaijan and/or Kazakhstan through Turkey and the Balkans.

On a political level, this crisis confirms the urgent need to reinforce the partnership between Europe and Russia, which is essential for the equilibrium of the European continent. Ukraine can and should have its place in this partnership, but the country must understand that this depends on its own actions -- particularly,  its ability to provide political and economic stability.

Thierry Mariani, a deputy in the French National Assembly from the Union for a Popular Movement, is president of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.