ST. PETERSBURG, June 18. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he is convinced blackmail on the part of Ukraine regarding gas transit will stop if the country no longer has monopoly on transportation.
"If Ukraine realizes that it has no monopoly right to transport Russian gas to Europe, then blackmail by some figures regarding those deliveries will stop," Putin said at a meeting with the chief executives of international news agencies.
"We will just switch over to normal business cooperation," he said.
"Monopoly is a bad story. And when someone has a monopoly in his hands, he starts abusing it immediately," Putin said.
He underscored that Russia does not refuse to transit gas via Ukraine in full. "The question is how much we will transport and where," he said.
Putin said that Russia will not refuse from participation in Ukraine’s gas transport system if Kiev offers advantageous terms.
"If Ukrainian partners offer an economically expedient project, a project that will guarantee safe supplies and economic expediency, we will work with Ukraine," he said.
The Russian leader reminded that several years ago Russia had offered to set up an international consortium with participation of European partners to lease out Ukraine’s gas transport system with a liability of its maintenance and development. "It was signed to be later tossed into the garbage," he said.
After that, Ukraine demanded the gas price be lowered below the market level. "But we want to guarantee ourselves against that and work with Ukraine normally," Putin noted.
Touching on gas supplies to other countries, the Russian president said Russia has not suspended gas supplies to Turkey, despite a chill in relations with that country.