Ukraine's Naftogaz Chief Claims Russia Won't Renew Gas Transit Deal After 2024
Morgan Artyukhina . Sputnik International
21:24 GMT 21.07.2021(updated 21:54 GMT 21.07.2021)
Yuriy Vitrenko, head of Ukraine's state-owned gas company Naftogaz, said Wednesday that Russia intended to stop pumping gas through pipelines that pass through Ukraine after 2024, when the present contract expires.
Vitrenko said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is "is now using gas as a geopolitical weapon against Ukraine and the whole region."
"Since our concerns are for example first and foremost about the security, NATO membership would probably address this security concern," he added.
His comments come amid news the United States has reached a deal with Germany to avert sanctioning the NATO ally, which is also where the terminus of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia will be. Ukraine and Poland have claimed the gas line, which goes around their territory via and undersea route, is a danger to their security.
Under the deal, Berlin and Washington will support a 10-year extension of the Russia-Ukraine gas transit agreement, which expires in 2024 and provides Kiev with billions of dollars in transit fees.
The deal also provides for Germany to invest between $175 million and $1 billion in a "Green Fund for Ukraine." German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter on Wednesday that Germany "will support Ukraine in creating a green energy sector and will work to ensure gas transit through Ukraine in the next decade."
The US has long sought to block completion of the pipeline, but presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden both averted sanctioning Germany or German institutions - although noting they reserve the right to, a right German officials don't agree with. Nonetheless, the gas line is essentially complete, having cost $11 billion to construct.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whoâ€‹ doesn't share Biden's fears about Russia using Nord Stream 2 as leverage over Western Europe, said Wednesday she spoke with Putin over the phone about Nord Stream 2 hours before the agreement was announced. She has previously said that sanctions are an adequate tool to push back with if Moscow does try to weaponize the pipeline, which will carry 55 billion cubic meters of gas each year from Siberia to Western Europe.
Anatoly Antonov, Russia's ambassador to the United States, said Wednesday that accusations Russia is using energy for political pressure is unfair competition.
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