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Ukraine ready for government-level gas talks with Russia

RIA Novosti

12/01/2009 17:08 YEVPATORIYA, January 12 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine is ready to continue gas talks with Russia at a governmental level, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said on Monday.

Russia cutoff shipments to Ukraine after talks on outstanding debt and a gas price for 2009 broke down on New Year's Eve. The gas conflict led to a complete break in Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine, which transits around 80% of Russia's gas exports to EU countries.

"We will arrange negotiations between governments," she told journalists.

"The Russian prime minister and I signed a memorandum on October 2, 2008, which outlined the entire pricing formula process for the transit of Russian gas to Europe and a price for gas to be supplied to Ukraine... I am sure the memo will be observed as a result of the negotiations, and Russia and Ukraine will sign a contract for gas deliveries," the Ukrainian premier said.

Tymoshenko assured reporters that Ukraine has sufficient gas stored in underground depots for a year despite the current gas dispute with Russia.

"Gas is not reaching Ukraine at the moment, but we have pumped such a quantity of gas for the first time into our storage facilities. This gas belongs to a public organization. It will suffice for a year," Yulia Tymoshenko said.

Tymoshenko also dismissed speculation on the privatization of the country's gas transit system.

Her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that Russia would participate in any privatization if Kiev decided to go ahead with it. Ukrainian Ambassador to Russia Konstantyn Gryshchenko has also ruled out the move.

"The national gas transit system will not be privatized," the Ukrainian government's press service quoted Tymoshenko as saying.

She also said she was confident that the gas conflict would not hamper Ukraine's integration into the European Union.

Ukraine has long been seeking admission to the EU. Paris hosted an EU-Ukraine summit in September 2008, where an announcement was made that a new Association Agreement would soon be signed but without any membership prospects for Kiev.

Russia, the EU and Ukraine signed last weekend a protocol to establish an independent commission to monitor the transit of Russian gas via Ukraine to Europe as a way out of the gas row. However, Kiev added its own declaration to the document after it had been signed by Moscow.

The European Commission signed on Monday a new version of a document on monitoring Russian gas transit to Europe via Ukraine.



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