Russian President Vladimir Putin clicked the mouse and Russia's mammoth Gazprom began filling the €8.8 billion gas pipeline Nord Stream that runs under the Baltic Sea to Germany, bypassing the Ukraine.

This means that Western Europe will no longer be affected by the haggling over transit prices between Russia and the Ukraine. In 2009 a dispute between Russia and the Ukraine led to a curtailment of deliveries and many households in Western Europe suffered freezing cold during that winter.

The Nord Stream pipeline is intended to supply between 25% to 30% of Europe’s gas, while servicing an estimated 30 million homes in the EU.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who as Russian president in 2005 initiated the project together with former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (who has since become a highly paid Gazprom employee), hailed the increased leverage that Russia has gained vis-a-vis the Ukraine. .

“We are slowly but surely turning away from the dictate of transit states.”

“Ukraine is our long-time, traditional partner. As any transit country, it faces a constant temptation to abuse its position"…“Now this exclusive status is no more"

Putin now expects Moscow’s relations with Kiev to become more civilized. The Ukrainem however, wants to take Russia to court over a 2009 gas price agreement.

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