US criticises Russia’s gas price hike for Ukraine

The White House has objected to Russia’s increase in natural gas prices for Ukraine on Thursday and said that markets should determine prices.

White House Spokesman Jay Carney spoke after Russian natural gas producer Gazprom announced it would virtually double the gas price for Ukraine to $485 per 1000 cubic meters this month, which Ukraine said was politically motivated.

“That kind of action taken coercively against Ukraine is something we oppose,” Carney told reporters.

“We believe that markets should determine energy prices.”

The price hike amounts to an 80 per cent increase, piling more pressure on the Ukraine economy, already on the brink of bankruptcy.

Moscow has frequently used energy as a political weapon in dealing with its neighbours, and European customers are concerned that Russia might again cut off deliveries in the worst East-West stand-off since the Cold War over Crimea.