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Russian and Ukrainian presidents partially agree on gas issue

September 26, 2011, 13:36 UTC+3
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Last weekend President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held talks with Ukraine’s leader Viktor Yanukovich to reach some progress on the issue of gas exports. In particular, Russia expressed its readiness to discuss the creation of a tripartite consortium with the European Union on the basis of Ukraine’s gas pipeline network. And the answer to the question whether Kiev will get a discount for Russian gas will be given in October.

“I will not conceal that there are certain concerns over our energy issues,” the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily cited Viktor Yanukovich as saying. “Due to the fact that we succeeded in obtaining certain results in the 18 months – we managed to stabilise trade and economic relations – I’m sure that we’ll solve our problems in a constructive way,” Yanukovich stressed.

Moscow feels inclined to abandon its maximalist position of engaging Kiev into the Customs Union. “This is something like “we just want things”. It’s far from being the fact that such a stance is timely. The issue of Russia’s participation in controlling Ukraine’s gas pipeline network is much more important,” a high-ranking Ukrainian official told Kommersant. Earlier Kiev proposed Moscow to set up a tripartite consortium involving the EU, which had not evoked enthusiasm of Russia that insisted on only two parties in the deal. The diplomat noted that Russia’s current position is not so categorical, while the gas dispute can be solved already next month. In October not only talks between chief executive offices of Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz, but also between the two countries’ leaders are scheduled.

The director of Ukraine’s Public Policy Institute, Viktor Chumak, quoted by Nezavisimaya Gazeta, believes that an attempt to resolve the most pressing issues spontaneously failed to be crowned with success. “Yanukovich returned to Kiev and this is all we have about his visit. Moreover, of course, Medvedev and Putin personally informed him about Putin’s decision to run for presidency. And this is very bad for Yanukovich, whose team, as it seems, sincerely believed that there is internal competition in the Russian tandem. If the relations with the prime minister took no favourable turn, a serious stake was placed on Russia’s incumbent president,” the expert said.

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