News / Europe

Moscow to Meet Ukraine for Energy Talks as EU Frees Gas for Kyiv

Pipelines are seen at a gas border delivery station of pipeline operator Eustream in the eastern Slovak town of Velke Kapusany, near the border with Ukraine, April 15, 2014.
Pipelines are seen at a gas border delivery station of pipeline operator Eustream in the eastern Slovak town of Velke Kapusany, near the border with Ukraine, April 15, 2014.
Reuters
European and Russian officials will meet this week and next for emergency talks to try to prevent Moscow cutting off gas supply to Ukraine, as Europe explores how to pump more gas to the struggling country. Moscow has nearly doubled the natural gas price it charges Ukraine and threatened to cut gas supplies for non-payment of debt since a new pro-Western government took over in Kiev in February.

It also has annexed Ukraine's Crimea region and voiced support for pro-Russian separatists who have seized control of government buildings and set up road blocks in parts of eastern Ukraine.

The talks next week are another attempt to bring Ukraine and Russia to the negotiating table as a previous agreement struck in Geneva last week to de-escalate tensions between the two neighbors fractured.

The preparations for negotiations follow calls from Ukraine's acting president, Oleksander Turchinov, for government forces to relaunch an offensive against pro-Russian rebels.

In the first round of talks on Thursday, the European Union's top energy official, Guenther Oettinger, will meet Ukrainian and Slovakian ministers in Bratislava to seek a deal on shipping gas to Ukraine via Slovakia.

Russia will not attend that meeting. It said it would host talks in Moscow on Monday, however, bringing together Ukraine Energy Minister Yuri Prodan, Oettinger and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak to discuss gas pricing for Kyiv.

"We sent a letter to Oettinger proposing to hold the talks in Moscow on April 28," a spokesperson for the Russian Energy Ministry told Reuters.

The European Commission, the EU executive, has not confirmed where or when any meeting with Russia would take place, though it has said it is willing to take part in such talks.

"Today, EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger has invited the Russian Energy Ministers Novak and the Ukrainian Energy Minister Prodan for a first meeting for trilateral consultations, but the date and place are not fixed yet," a Commission spokeswoman said. She confirmed Thursday's talks in Bratislava, which follow months of preparation to reverse the flow of gas through Slovakia to help Ukraine in the event of a halt in supplies.

"The Commission is confident that the Memorandum of Understanding on reverse flows can be signed as soon as possible between the two pipeline operators in Slovakia [Eustream] and in the Ukraine [Uktransgas]," said the spokeswoman.

Turn off taps

Russia's seizure of Crimea has caused the most serious East-West rift since the end of the Cold War. The European Union and United States have imposed sanctions, mostly in the form of visa bans and asset freezes on a number of Russian officials.

At the same time, Russia has warned that gas supplies to Ukraine could be cut, and that could in turn lead to a reduction of onward deliveries to Europe.

Russia provides Europe with roughly one third of its gas imports, over half of which flowed via Ukraine last year, and delivers around half of Ukraine's domestic gas needs.

Moscow, which does not recognize the Ukrainian government that replaced ousted President Viktor Yanukovych in February, nearly doubled the gas price for Ukraine to $485 per 1,000 cubic meters, starting from April. Kiev, which is in deep financial trouble, is refusing to pay.

Russian state-controlled gas producer Gazprom said Kyiv owes it $2.2 billion for gas already delivered, and said it is considering demanding up-front payments, increasing the risk of Russia turning off the taps.

Prodan said on Wednesday that Kyiv had sent Moscow its gas price suggestions, but that there had been no response yet. He would not specify the suggested price. Ukraine's officials have previously said they were ready to pay $386 per 1,000 cubic meters.

The EU has been working on developing technology to ship gas back to Ukraine in the opposite direction to that for which the pipelines were designed. The most significant such channel would be through Slovakia, but talks had repeatedly failed to get a deal.

Slovak government officials said Thursday's outline agreement was expected to cover smaller flows than Ukraine wanted as Slovakia sought legal advice on a bigger project. Russia has said reversing flows of its gas would be illegal.

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid