Ukraine round-up

Pro-Russia Ukrainian protesters have stormed the main government building in the eastern city of Donetsk. Some 2,000 protesters rallied outside the regional administration building earlier on April 6, before a group of protesters broke into the building and raised the Russian flag. Meanwhile in Luhansk, also in the east of the country, protesters broke into the headquarters of Ukraine’s security agency, the SBU

Tens of thousands of Russian troops near Ukraine border says U.S. envoy: The U.S. ambassador to the OSCE said Russia had amassed tens of thousands of troops near the border with Ukraine and called on Moscow to take steps to de-escalate the situation.

“We have strong evidence that there are tens of thousands of forces on the border and again not in their normal peacetime positions or garrisons,” Daniel Baer told reporters after an emergency meeting of the 57-member Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Monday to discuss the issue.

The Russian delegation did not address the meeting, Baer and other diplomats said.

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Pro-Russia protesters scuffle with the police near the regional government building in Donetsk, Ukraine, April 6, 2014

Germany ‘very worried’ about developments in eastern Ukraine: The German government is “very worried” about events at the weekend in eastern Ukraine, which included the seizure of state buildings by pro-Russian protesters, a spokesman said on Monday.

Pro-Russian demonstrators stormed regional government buildings in the industrial hub of Donetsk on Sunday as well as security service offices in nearby Luhansk and the regional administrative building in Kharkiv.

“The latest developments in Donetsk and in Kharkiv are something which we are all very worried about in the German government,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert.

Pro-Russian activists guard a barricade set at the Ukrainian regional Security Service building on the eastern city of Donetsk on Monday.

Protests in east Ukraine aimed at bringing in Russian troops says PM: Protests in eastern Ukraine in which pro-Russian activists seized public buildings in three cities are part of a plan to destabilize Ukraine and bring in Russian troops, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Monday.

Plans for EU gas flows to Ukraine could be blocked by Russia: Reverse flows of natural gas from Europe to Ukraine to help it handle Russian price and supply cuts would be possible within hours once the infrastructure is in place, but the flows could require approval from Russia’s Gazprom first.

Pro-Russian protesters (L) clash with activists (R) supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine as Interior Ministry members (C) attempt to break them apart during rallies in the eastern city of Donetsk

Ukraine is in emergency talks with the EU on importing gas from the West, pumping gas in the opposite direction to the original design of the pipelines, following a leap in the price Gazprom charges it for supplies.

Crimea cost Ukraine over $10 bln in lost natural resources says minister

Russia bans Ukrainian dairy imports from six companies

Putin’s pipelines: How reliant is Europe on Russian gas? The crisis in Ukraine has alarmed the rest of Europe—not just because of the prospect of war, or chaos on its borders, but because a row with Russia over Ukraine’s unpaid gas bill threatens energy security in the rest of the continent.

Europe could survive a short interruption of a few weeks to the pipelines across Ukraine, assuming that other Russian gas kept flowing. The European Union has built in more resilience since the last upset in Ukraine, in 2009.

Now it is hurrying to reduce its reliance further. But measures such as better storage, more interconnectors and diversification of supply will take several years. In the long term Europe could import more liquefied natural gas as new supplies come on stream, chiefly from America. It could also take advantage of abundant Norwegian hydro-power.

For now, though, Europe cannot do without Russian gas—but then again, the Kremlin cannot do without its European customers.