World briefs: Russia delays gas deadline

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MOSCOW -- Russia's state-controlled energy giant, Gazprom, on Monday pushed back by a week its ultimatum to Ukraine to pay in advance for natural gas or face a shut-off.

Ukraine has been highly dependent on Russian gas, giving the Kremlin powerful leverage over Kiev.

The Ukrainian state oil and gas company, Naftogaz, made a partial payment Monday of $786 million to Gazprom for gas already delivered. Gazprom's chief executive, Alexei B. Miller, said that in light of that, the deadline for pre-payment on future deliveries was moved to next Monday.

Gazprom also offered a concession on price, with Mr. Miller telling reporters in Moscow that its asking price would be lowered to $385 per 1,000 cubic meters from $485, putting it on a par with price levels in Europe.

Obama heads to Europe

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's European trip this week is tailored to get the attention of Russia's Vladimir Putin, who has done more in recent months to unsettle the continent than anyone since the end of the Cold War.

Mr. Obama will use his speeches and meetings with allies to emphasize the Russian president's choice between further economic isolation or an easing of sanctions if he changes course.

Starting today in Warsaw, then in Brussels and Paris, Mr. Obama will promote economic cooperation, energy security, and solidarity among NATO and Group of Seven nations. He'll meet with Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko, newly elected to become president.

6 killed in Afghan attacks

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Three Turkish civil engineers, at least two Afghan police officers and one foreign soldier were killed Monday in separate attacks in Afghanistan.

The engineers were traveling in a car when a suicide bomber rammed into it with a motorcycle rigged with explosives in eastern Nangahar province near the border with Pakistan, the Interior Ministry said.

The soldier, a member of the U.S.-led coalition that includes NATO forces, was killed in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan, the coalition said. It did not identify the soldier or provide details of the attack or its exact location.

The police officers were killed in a clash with insurgents who stormed a headquarters in southern Helmand province.

200 kidnapped in Syria

ISTANBUL -- A rogue al-Qaida offshoot abducted nearly 200 Kurdish villagers over the weekend in Syria's Aleppo province, the latest sign of the growing conflict between primarily Arab Islamist rebels and an ethnic Kurdish militia that has established a de facto Kurdish state in northeastern Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, drawing on reports from a network of activists in the area, said fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria entered Qbasin and began abducting residents. Qbasin is on the outskirts of the ISIS-controlled town of al Bab in northeastern Syria,

Reports said the abductees ranged in age from 14 to 93.

Nigeria bans protests

ABUJA, Nigeria -- Nigerian police said Monday they have banned protests in the capital demanding that the government rescue more than 200 girls still held captive by Boko Haram militants.

The protests have "degenerated" and are "now posing a serious security threat," Abuja police commissioner Joseph Mbu said in a statement. The kidnapping crisis, now in its seventh week, has highlighted Nigeria's failure to curb Boko Haram's uprising.


-- Compiled from news services

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