Ukraine is, like everybody else previously pounded into the dirt by the Soviet-Russian Empire, abjectly dependent on Russia for energy resources. It's that way intentionally: the Russians designed the whole sick apparatus so that they could keep the Oil Spigot of Damocles hanging over Europe's head, just like Saddam used to do to the Shiites with potable water. Cutting off natural gas in the middle of a Black Sea winter *will* effectively result in the sickness deaths of thousands of Ukrainians at the bottom of the economic pile. (G'wan, try making it through the equivalent of a Minnesota winter with no way to heat water or cook. That's right: gas stoves. Everybody in those old Soviet block flats will be screwed.)
Everybody in the region, top to bottom, Russian, Ukrainian, Balt, Pole, Finn, German, Hungarian, Romanian, etc., knows this. Well, maybe not the Germans, since their international hypocrisy and ignorance has reached autistic proportions of late. If the Germans even notice something's wrong, I fully expect Der Spiegel, IG Metall, and Stern to come out with pompous editorials on January 3rd describing how this is all America's fault.
"If we don't have a contract (with Ukraine) then all the gas in the pipe goes to
European consumers," Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kuprianov said in comments on Ekho Moskvy radio.
Gee, I wonder who these "European customers" might be. Perhaps those same Germans? Now that Schroeder has officially sold his soul to the Russians in exchange for a job working for the Russian government (remember Gazprom is the Kremlin, which is why Khodorkosvsky was jailed... Yukos represented energy assets not directly under Kremlin control and was therefore unacceptable). The East-Central Europeans and Baltic countries have rightfully been screaming bloody murder, because they know full well that the Bear has not reformed in the slightest, and intends to reassert its imperial ambitions by economic means until it can do so again militarily.