Ukraine, Russia reach natural gas deal
Natural gas will flow through Ukraine this winter, officials say, months after Russian energy giant Gazprom cut gas supplies to Ukraine.
Kiev and Moscow sealed a deal Thursday that would guarantee the delivery of Russian gas to Ukraine during the winter even as the two countries are bitterly at odds over eastern Ukraine.
In an agreement brokered by EU Energy Minister Guenther Oettinger between Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan and his Russian counterpart, Alexander Novak, $3.1 billion of the debt will be paid to Russia by the end of this year.
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, who witnessed the signing of the deal, said: "There is now no reason for people in Europe to stay cold this winter."
The agreement came four months after the Russian energy giant Gazprom, the largest extractor of natural gas in the world, cut gas supplies to Ukraine, claiming Kiev’s national oil company Naftogaz had not paid its gas bill of about $4.5 billion.
Russia demanded, during the previous trilateral gas talks between in Brussels on October 21, that Ukraine pays $1.6 billion in advance for deliveries of gas in November and December. Ukraine is ready to pay $1.45 billion of its debt "immediately," according to Oettinger.
"We can confirm that large quantities of gas will flow smoothly through Ukraine," Oettinger said, adding that countries including Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, will get sufficient quantities of gas.
With gas supplies from Russia reaching the EU through Ukraine, disputes over gas prices between Moscow and Kiev in 2006 and 2009 prompted Gazprom to cut supplies, causing gas shortages in Europe during freezing temperatures.
The EU and Kiev have also agreed that the European Commission will serve as a guarantor in any agreement with Russia over Ukraine's gas supplies, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said earlier Thursday.
Russia doubled its gas prices in April following the ouster of the pro-Russian government under Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev in February.
Ukraine's Naftogaz chief executive, Andriy Kobolev, has said the company had the money to pay the sum by the end of this year.
However, Kiev has demanded Russia guarantees the agreement is fixed and will not change.
Last Modified: 2014-10-31 11:08:22
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