Ukraine, Russia To Continue Gas-Transit Talks

Russia’s state-controlled energy giant Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz say they will continue talks on the extension of a deal on gas transit from Russia to Europe through Ukrainian territory beyond the end of December, when the current 10-year agreement expires.

A new round of talks in Vienna on December 13 attended by Gazprom chief Aleksei Miller and the leadership of Naftogaz Ukraine ended without a deal.

“It is too early to talk about an approved option, but we are taking the most constructive position. Active work continues,” Naftogaz executive director Yuriy Vitrenko wrote on Facebook.

Vitrenko told TASS the negotiations were “relatively successful, [but] we continue working.”

Before the talks, Vitrenko had said that December 13 was the deadline for reaching a deal to “secure the long-term transit capacities of the Ukrainian gas transmission system.”

After last month’s bilateral talks in Vienna, Vitrenko said that Ukraine will not halt Europe-bound Russian gas supplies, even if Moscow and Kyiv failed to sign a new transit agreement by the end of the year.

“Ukraine will not cut off the gas. Ukraine has never cut off gas, and this must be understood. We have no tradition of appearing on TV screens and saying, ‘We are cutting off gas now,'” Vitrenko told Germany’s Deutsche Welle.

The talks in Vienna came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said after meeting his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Paris on December 9 that the issue of gas transit had been “unblocked” regarding Ukraine’s 10-year contract with Russia.

Zelenskiy and Putin held talks mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel under the so-called Normandy Format to resolve the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Moscow-backed separatists.

With reporting by Interfax and TASS
Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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