RIA Novosti: Ukraine Demands Gas Transit Contract With Europe, Refuses to Guarantee Safe Transit

Gas Flame file photo

KIEV, October 16 (RIA Novosti) – Ukraine will not guarantee uninterrupted transit of Russian gas to Europe via its territory unless it signs a gas transit contract with EU partners, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Thursday.

“Ukraine declares that we are a state that guarantees uninterrupted transit of natural gas, but in order to guarantee it, we need to sign an agreement with European companies,” he said.

In the past months, Ukraine, a major transit nation for Europe-bound Russian gas, has been pushing for an agreement that would enable European companies to buy Russian gas as soon as it crosses into the territory of Ukraine.

Currently, European companies buy Russian gas on the western border between the European Union and Ukraine. Ukraine’s oil and gas company Naftogaz earlier said it had requested the Stockholm court of international arbitration to review the transit contract with Russia.

Kiev is also unhappy with the so-called winter package proposed by Moscow and the European Commission during a ministerial gas meeting that took place on September 26 in Berlin.

According to the plan, Ukraine would repay at least $3.1 billion of its gas debt to Russia by the end of the year and would pay in advance for the delivery of five billion cubic meters of gas in the course of six months at a price of $385 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Russia initially insisted that Ukraine would pay the first tranche of $2 billion before the start of the deliveries. Later, however, Russia proposed a more flexible schedule for the debt repayment under which Kiev should pay $1.45 billion in the first installment, with the rest of the debt to be cleared by the end of 2014.

Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan said Ukraine was not willing to make any advanced payment for Russian gas supplies and insisted that payments be made upon delivery.

According to Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, the next round of the Russia-Ukraine-EU gas talks will be held on October 21.

The European Union has repeatedly stressed the importance of trilateral talks on the gas issue in order to come to an agreement before winter comes.