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Ukrainian President Vows to Honor Russian Gas Deal

By VOA News
27 January 2009

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has promised to honor the natural gas deal with Russia that restarted pipeline deliveries to Western Europe last week.

The 10-year deal, signed by the president's political rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, ended a two-week gas cutoff to Western Europe that was triggered by a price dispute between Russia and Ukraine.

Mr. Yushchenko told reporters Tuesday in Brussels the new pricing agreement is "not easy" to accept. He earlier said the accord could be declared invalid if it was signed under pressure. But Tuesday he said his country fully guarantees gas flow to the West.

The Ukrainian leader spoke alongside European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. Both leaders agreed to boost cooperation on energy issues, to ensure that any future Russian-Ukrainian gas pricing disputes do not result in further cutoffs to the West.

Russia first cut off supplies to Ukraine on January 1, when the two sides failed to settle on a gas price for 2009.

Russian authorities later accused Ukraine of stealing gas that was meant for Western Europe and cut all supplies to the West. The standoff left millions of consumers on the continent without heat or power during 13 days of bitter cold.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.