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He said the country’s leadership was not ready yet for a constructive dialogue with Russian officials on economic issues.
According to him, [Prime Minister Arseny] Yatsenyuk and [parliament speaker Oleksandr] Turchynov have given up on this question.
“They believe that economic relations between the two countries have been ruined. On the natural gas issue, the Ukrainian government apparently hopes that the EU by September would offer a solution after all,” Tolstov said.
He added that the internal political situation today was not conducive to an open public discussion of and search for solutions to economic problems. Any discussion on this matter would be considered as a manifestation of a defeatist stance and agitation for the enemy.
“Some people now issue some warnings. For example, Ivan Plachkov (head of the supervisory board of the Kievenergo power utility and former energy minister) says that Kiev would better agree with Russia on the gas issue before winter comes. There is also the view that Kiev should pump into its underground storage facilities six — seven billion cubic meters of Russian gas,” the expert said.
Tolstov added that some experts said Ukraine would be able to secure a 15-percent replacement of Russian exports.
“There is the non-politicized statement of the fact, but there are no suggestions on the way out. The talk of maintaining Ukrainian positions in the Russian and Customs Union markets has died out in the Ukrainian government, as far as I understand. They are ready to consider the prospect of losing these markets,” Tolstov said.
Previous reports suggested that Ukraine-Russia turnover in the first two months of the current year decreased by one-fourth. According to the Russian Federal Customs Service, in January-February Russia’s imports from Ukraine decreased by 30% year on year, and the total volume of Russian-Ukrainian trade turnover declined by 10.5% to $5.3 billion.
In 2013, Russia accounted for 24% of Ukrainian exports.