Money woes continue to hit Ukraine, which has an overdue gas bill, and Russia wants its US $1.89 billion. The possibility of another gas shutoff could not come at a worse time for the former Soviet Republic, which appears to be on the brink of a civil war. One side wants to maintain strong ties with Russia, while others want to bond with the European Union (EU). Former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to pull out of talks for a partnership agreement and free-trade pact with the EU in late 2013 – instead accepting US $15 billion in loans and a gas price discount from Russia later – sparked the street demonstrations that have turned deadly, according to media reports. And the violence has not stopped. Russian troops have even made their way into Ukraine, including Crimea. Thankfully, US legislators in the House have put aside their differences and have agreed to give Ukraine $1 billion in loan guarantees to bring some financial stability to the county. The move came as the Obama administration also restricted visas for Ukrainian officials and those who threaten the country’s sovereignty, according to a Bloomberg report. More financial assistance could be on the way. The EU may give Ukraine $15 billion in loans and grants in the coming years, The Associated Press reported. “The package foresees helping to modernize Ukraine's gas transit system and providing technical assistance ranging from judicial reform to assistance in preparing elections, the [EU] Commission said. The package also calls for steps to accelerate achieving visa-free travel for Ukrainians to the 28-nation bloc.” But until those plans are finalized and money flows into Ukraine’s coffers, the fuel bill to Russia’s Gazprom remains unpaid. Gazprom announced this month that it has decided not to give Ukraine the previously announced gas discount because the country is behind on its payments not only for this year but also for part of last year. “The one who fails to pay for the supplied goods should be aware that it is fraught with adverse consequences, including those related to the revocation of previously reached agreements on beneficial terms of supplies,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said during a meeting on the situation with Gazprom CEO Alexy Miller. A transcript of the meeting was posted on Gazprom’s website. In another statement, Bloomberg reported Miller as saying, “We can’t supply gas for free. Either Ukraine pays off its debt and pays for current deliveries or there’s a risk of a return to the situation we saw at the start of 2009.” Back then, Russia turned off gas supplies to Ukraine. In the meantime, development that could reduce Ukraine’s reliance on Russia continues to remain at a standstill, and the future of some oil and gas projects, especially in the Crimea region, remains unclear. Companies including ExxonMobil and Shell have plans to drill in offshore the region. Hopefully, when the crisis is over, those holding power in Ukraine will see the benefit of the country developing its own energy resources. Unfortunately, no end is in sight. For the meantime, let’s hope Russia does not act on its threat, money flows into Ukraine, and the country is able to get out of Russian debt sooner rather than later. Neither Ukraine nor its energy industry needs to be dealt another blow. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at