By Madalena Araujo, CNN
Russia will not let the Ukrainian people freeze, Russia's Permanent Representative to the OSCE, Andrey Kelin, told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Wednesday.
Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in June citing unpaid bills and exacerbating already existing tensions between the two countries, triggered by Russia’s annexation of Crimea in February. The time to resolve the gas dispute is now running out with temperatures in Kiev already falling below zero.
“What I can absolutely guarantee is that Russia will never stop supplying gas to Ukraine because we have a lot of people from Ukraine in Russia, and it is impossible that we let Ukrainian people freeze. This is out of the question,” Kelin said.
“On the other hand,” the Ambassador warned, “we cannot always supply gas for credit to Ukraine, which happened in the past. Ukraine still did not pay, for instance, last three months or the year and we expect this payment.”
Ukraine’s parliamentary elections took place on Sunday and, for the first time since the country’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Communist Party will be left out from parliament.
Despite the “omissions and violations” committed during the election, Kelin remarked, “I think that we are going to recognize the outcome when all calculations will be finalized.”
Holmes also asked the Ambassador to comment on the elections that the rebels plan to hold this Sunday in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which Russia says it will also back.
“Elections are in Donbas, in what you are saying is Donetsk and Luhansk - a republic - it's an important position in the Minsk agreement, Minsk memorandum. Elections should be held in any way. The Minsk agreement stipulates that first there should be a law on the special status of Donbas,” Kelin said.
Kiev in the meantime has said it will not recognise Sunday’s elections. “Kiev authorities need to talk to the people in Luhansk and Donetsk and to speak about the problems and to settle the disagreements,” Kelin added.
He also told Holmes that Western sanctions against Russia are not having any impact on the Kremlin’s moves, though they are hurting the economy.
“In terms of changing our policy, what is happening over there, I don’t think so. I do not see any indication of that. As for the effect on the economy, we feel some difficulties that is true. But I would say that some difficulties are also felt by a number of European countries as well, like Poland and Baltic countries and the others,” he said.