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Ukraine's Tymoshenko wants better relations with Russia

RIA Novosti

31/03/2009 11:45 KIEV, March 31 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has said that she wants to see friendly relations between Kiev and Moscow that take into account the national interests of both countries.

"I want to build friendly, harmonious ties with Russia, but with national interests taken into account. You have seen how much effort I have put in to eliminate the confrontations in our relations," Tymoshenko said late on Monday in an interview with the Ukrainian TV channel ICTV.

In particular, Tymoshenko said that the independence of the country's gas transportation system, sealed in an agreement signed with the European Union, was important for Ukraine.

Ukraine and the European Union signed an agreement to modernize Ukraine's Soviet-era gas pipeline network last week, triggering an angry reaction from Russia, which exports most of its Europe-bound gas via the country.

Under the agreement, the EU endorsed Ukraine's plan to modernize its Soviet-era pipelines and underground storage facilities, and to build new gas metering stations. The EU pledged 2.5 billion euros ($3.4 billion) on the condition Kiev reform the sector to make it more open and transparent.

Moscow said it had been deliberately excluded from the deal and subsequently delayed inter-government talks with Kiev. It also threatened to review energy ties with the European Union if its interests continued to be disregarded.

The spat has stirred fears of a repeat of January's gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine, when a number of European Union consumers were left without gas for some two weeks.


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