Ukraine says progress made on gas deal with Russia

17th October 2014, Comments 0 comments

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said progress had been made during talks Friday aimed at resolving a dispute over gas supplies from Russia that also threatened deliveries to Europe.

"We have some progress on the gas issue," Poroshenko said, adding that the "basic parameters" of a new contract with Russia had been agreed while further discussion on how to finance it was required.

A proposal that has been under discussion for some time would see cash-strapped Kiev settle 3.1 billion dollars (2.4 billion euros) of unpaid bills with Russian state gas giant Gazprom, with two billion dollars paid before the end of October, in exchange for a resumption of supplies.

The EU-brokered talks in Milan followed a warning by Russian President Vladimir Putin that "major transit risks" could lead to a disruption of the flow of Russian gas to western Europe this winter.

Russia accounts for around one third of the EU's consumption and previous disruptions, in 2006 and 2009, led to sharp spikes in prices. Half the Russian gas coming to Europe transits via pipelines through Ukraine.

European Union energy commissioner Guenter Oettinger is due in Kiev on Monday ahead of EU-Russia-Ukraine talks on the gas issue in Brussels the following day.

The EU is sufficiently concerned about the prospect of a winter energy shortfall to have conducted "stress tests" to show how the 28-nation bloc would cope with a disruption to supplies from Russia.

The stress tests revealed that the EU could cope with a six-month suspension of Russia supplies thanks to stocks being currently at a high level.

© 2014 AFP

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