The natural gas price war in Ukraine

Source: CNN
Source: CNN

(CNN) – Russia continues to raise natural gas prices as Ukraine's debt mounts. The economic fallout is being felt deeply in Kiev, especially among business owners.

A woman tends to tomato plants at one of Ukraine's largest vegetable producers. But the sprawling company is facing even bigger cuts; gas, which is needed to heat the greenhouses at Kombinat Teblychny, already accounts for 60 percent of all costs.

With Russia now demanding 81 percent more for the price of its gas, head agronomist Stanislav Yuhnenko says growth will be stunted.

"These rising gas prices will not enable us to make any profits," Yuhnekno said. "We won't be able to expand our company. Instead, we will need to downsize and people will lose their jobs."

Higher gas prices also mean higher transport costs. And those costs will inevitably pass down the food chain onto consumers who say they can ill afford it.

Igor, a regular at Two Gees Restaurant in Kiev says it's difficult, because the price of everything is going up.

Valentina Volodimrovna, the owner of Two Geese, says she will hold off on increasing prices as long as possible.

"We are prepared to take a loss so we can keep our customers," Volodimrovna said.

Those customers feel helpless as their government tries to convince Russia to return to the subsidized price regime Ukraine enjoyed before president Victor Yanukovich was ousted.

"He will pay what they tell us," Yulia, a customer at Two Gees Restaurant said. "We have no choice. I don't have my own gas station at home."

For the most modest of homes, higher gas prices are simply unaffordable.

Adam Berkut is a single father of two. He was widowed when his wife died after giving birth to their youngest son four years ago.

One hundred, one hundred thirty, ninety eight, he tells the cost of his most recent gas bills in Hryvna, the national currency of Ukraine.

An average of about 10 dollars, it's a lot for a man who is disabled and lives on a pension of just $200 per month.

"Children need heating," Adam Berkut said. "So if I have to pay higher prices, I will find a way."

His eldest boy, eight year old Jan-Adam, reads a poem about being optimistic at the start of each day.

Smile at the sun, smile at the heavens, smile at the flowers.

It's increasingly difficult when you are paying the cost of a political crisis.

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