Ukraine rules out concession in Russian energy dispute

3rd September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Ukraine and Russia intensified an energy dispute Saturday as Kiev reaffirmed its refusal to accept Moscow's terms while both country's leaders attended a regional summit.

Ukraine on Saturday rejected Russia's calls to cede half of its state energy company Naftogaz to Russian energy giant Gazprom in return for cheaper gas as the country's presidents attended a summit in Tajikistan.

"It will not happen," Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said categorically on the sidelines of a regional summit in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

He said earlier that the "question is not being considered."

Ukraine had said Friday it wanted to hold separate energy talks on the summit sidelines with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as Kiev pushes for a new deal on gas imports in the latest spat between the two neighbours.

However, such a meeting in Dushanbe appeared unlikely. The Kremlin said on Friday that Medvedev's meeting with Yanukovych was not being planned.

Russia has said it would lower Ukraine's gas price if it dropped plans to establish free trade relations with the European Union and allowed Russian energy giant Gazprom to win control of half of Ukraine's Naftogaz company.

Ukraine argues that it now pays more than some richer European Union countries and that Russia's price terms are political, in the neighbours' second major dispute over gas prices in three years.

Leaders of former Soviet states met in Dushanbe for the summit of the Commonwealth of the Independent States, a group including all ex-Soviet states except for the Baltic countries and Georgia.

Russia also announced plans to discuss future energy projects with members of Libya's transitional government.

"They suggested holding meetings. We invited representatives to Moscow on their request. We will discuss all this with them," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as telling journalists.

Medvedev also held bilateral talks with Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov on Saturday after Russia expressed interest in a pipeline project aiming to pump Turkmen gas through Pakistan and Afghanistan to India. Berdymukhamedov is expected to visit Moscow in the near future.

Earlier this week, Berdymukhamedov said Turkmenistan had "reached a level of strategic partnership with Russia," in spite of previous rows over the price of gas.

© 2011 AFP

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