Ukraine Launches Military 'Anti-Terror' Operation

Crisis talks between Ukraine, Russia, the European Union, and Slovakia will not happen this week, Ukraine's energy minister said on Wednesday.

According to the news agency Interfax, Yuri Prodan said the key players were not planning to attend the talks over Ukraine's looming energy crisis, touted for Thursday.

"As of today we have received information that the EU commissioner won't be there, and the Russian minister won't be there, so there's no sense in me going there either," he told journalists in Kiev on Wednesday.

A European Commission spokeswoman confirmed that the proposed talks were not likely to happen this week, according to Reuters.

The prospect of negotiations appeared to look good this morning when Prodan said there was a possibility that the parties would sit down this week to discuss the standoff over the price that the Ukrainian government charges for gas.

The dispute between Russian energy giant Gazprom and the interim government in Kiev originated when the company almost doubled the price it charges for gas in a week.

The hike was accompanied by a demand that Ukraine immediately pay off its outstanding bills of $2.2bn (£1.3bn, €1.6bn).

Kiev refused, describing the new pricing as "political" and an "economic assault".

The crisis worsened when Gazprom threatened to cut off supplies to Ukraine if the government did not pay up.

Russian President Vladimir Putin then wrote to European leaders to warn that gas supplies to the EU could be affected if Gazprom were to shut down supply lines to the Ukraine.

Europe relies on Russia for around a third of its gas needs, 40% of which travels via Ukraine.

In an attempt to wriggle out of the crisis, Ukraine's government has discussed reversing the flow of gas from other EU countries including Slovakia, although questions have been raised about the legality of reversing flows through Gazprom-owned pipelines without the company's consent.