Suzuki SplashRussia and Ukraine are presently in the midst of a natural gas pricing dispute. Russia wants Ukraine to pay closer to market price for the commodity. Ukraine says that Russia should pay more for the use of its pipelines, through which the bulk of the EU's Russia-sourced natural gas flows. Russia has escalated matters by cutting off its gas shipments via Ukrainian pipelines completely, and the EU is scrambling as it deals with shortages. Obviously, there's zero love lost between Russia and Ukraine, and political finger-pointing continues apace. Pricing negotiations resume tomorrow, and EU monitors are likely to get involved.

In the meantime, the effect is already being felt in the European industrial sector. Hungarian government restrictions on industrial gas usage have forced Magyar Suzuki to cease production entirely. The automaker's Esztergom plant, located around 30 miles outside Budapest, produces the Suzuki Swift; the Suxuki SX4 and Fiat Sedici; and the Suzuki Splash / Opel Agila twins. Suzuki hopes to get Esztergom back online this coming Monday.

[Sources: WaPo, WSJ, Reuters]