EU monitors deployed to gas pumping stations across Ukraine as Russia prepares to resume gas supplies to Europe after four days of disruption amid freezing temperatures.
Thousands of people were without heating in below freezing temperatures. At least 18 countries were affected by the stoppage, including Austria, which relies on Russian gas for 60 per cent of its annual demand. France, Turkey, Italy and Greece were also worst-hit.
Ukraine signed an accord with Russia and the European Union on Sunday that allowed monitoring of transit gas through its territory. The pact will see gas flow being reinstated within 36 hours.
Under the agreement, Russian experts will be allowed to monitor transit shipments in Ukraine. International monitors will check flows into the Ukrainian pipeline network from Russian territory.
The gas shutdown, triggered by Russia’s dispute with Ukraine over prices and debt, renewed calls in Europe to develop nuclear power and alternative sources of energy.
Ukrainian officials say it may take up to three days for gas to reach European countries.
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, who represents the EU, secured the agreement of Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko in Kiev, after talks with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Sunday at his residence outside Moscow.
“We were able to reach a political agreement aimed at getting out of the deadlock … Ukraine has accepted all the terms needed for Russia to supply gas,” Topolanek said.