Russia, Ukraine on the brink of resuming gas transit to Europe
The gas summit in Kremlin today has lead to signficant progress in the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine over gas supplies to Europe. If treaties are signed tomorrow, transit of Europe-bound gas will resume. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko has acknowledged the talks.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Timoshenko reached an agreement on natural-gas supplies that may see shipments to Europe resume after almost two weeks of disruption.
A package of documents covering prices and transit fees should be prepared by tomorrow, allowing Russian exports via Ukraine to restart, Timoshenko said today on Russian state television after meeting Putin in Moscow. The talks had been “very difficult,” she said.
The two premiers agreed that Ukraine will get a 20 percent discount on the price it pays for gas from Russia this year should it maintain the fee it charges for transporting fuel to Europe at the 2008 level, Putin said. The countries will move to a European pricing formula for gas supply and transit next year, he said, without specifying any prices.
The breakthrough came after officials from the European Union, which has suffered gas shortages during the crisis, stepped up the pressure on both sides to find a solution at a Kremlin summit yesterday. Exporter OAO Gazprom cut off flows to Europe via Ukraine on Jan. 7 after talks over pricing and transit fees broke down. Russia accused its western neighbor of siphoning off Europe-bound gas for its own use, a charge the country denies.
The agreement means supplies to Europe should start “soon,” Putin said, without giving an exact date.