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Russia-Ukraine-EU meeting on gas issue will take place shortly - European Commission

May 12, 2014, 16:14 UTC+3 BRUSSELS
“Athens is very likely to be the venue of these talks, as an informal meeting of EU energy ministers will be held there May 16,” Russian ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov says
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BRUSSELS, May 12. /ITAR-TASS/. The European Commission has said a new date of the Russia-Ukraine-EU meeting will be announced shortly.

“The meeting with the participation of the Russian and Ukrainian energy ministers, and European Commissioner for Energy Guenther Oettinger may be held soon,” the European Commission spokesperson, Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen said on Monday.

On May 13, the European Commission officials will meet with Ukrainian government members in Brussels to discuss the results of talks on the future of Russian gas supplies to Europe and Kiev.

Earlier, Russian ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, said an expert trilateral meeting of Russian, Ukrainian and EU representatives on natural gas would be held in Brussels May 12.

“A technical meeting of experts on gas will be held in Brussels May 12, and we think have the level of chiefs of departments (at appropriate governmental agencies and corporations - Itar-Tass),” he told a group of Russian reporters, adding that it should be a prelude to a ministerial meeting, the date of which has not been discussed yet.

“As for the ministerial meeting, there is high probability it will be held May 16 and the Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, the European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, and the Ukrainian minister, Yuriy Prodan, will meet at the conference table,” Chizhov said. “Athens is very likely to be the venue of these talks, as an informal meeting of EU energy ministers will be held there May 16.”

“In the first place, there’s the problem of payment for gas and a return of the debt, the existence of which is not denied by anyone, even the authorities in Kiev, which however have claims against the amount of debt,” Chizhov said.

“Secondly, it’s the assuring of uninterrupted transits of Russian gas to EU countries, including the problem of replenishment of reserves in the underground tank farms on the territory of Ukraine where extra volumes of gas are dispatched to Europe from in the wintertime if the demand for gas makes unexpected hikes,” he said.

“The third issue is the alternative reversed supplies of gas to Ukraine from the EU member-states,” Chizhov said.

The first meeting in the trilateral format on gas that involved Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, European Commissioner Guenther Oettinger and Ukrainian minister Yuriy Prodan took place May 2 in Warsaw. An agreement on holding another two meetings of the same time - in the middle and at the end of May - was reached there.

After the tripartite meeting in Warsaw on May 2, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Ukraine had failed to pay for the 4th quarter of 2013, though it paid for January 2014. It did not pay for February, March and April 2014.

Therefore, the debt has reached some $3.5 billion. "The April payment is overdue. Gazprom is launching the prepayment option on the strength of the 2009 contract. Consequently, it will forward a June bill to Ukraine's Naftogaz on May 17 with payment to be made before May 31. If the money is not transferred on May 31, Gazprom has complete legal right to stop gas supply to Ukraine from June 1, Chizhov said.

"Prodan warned that he would challenge Ukraine's debt at an arbitration court." "As I understand them, they do not contend the cancellation of the second discount coordinated with (Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych). However, Kiev does contend the cancellation of the discount under the Kharkiv accord. Acknowledging the necessity to cancel this discount is tantamount to acknowledging the Crimean situation." "That is, according to their logic, we should pay them for the presence of the Black Sea Fleet. I cannot rule out that the EU might support them in this issue. We'll see," he said.

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