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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid