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Russia, Ukraine settle customs problems, but gas problems remain

August 21, 2013, 10:55 UTC+3
According to presidential aide Sergei Glazyev, inspection of Ukrainian cargos might become permanent if Ukraine signs the association and free trade zone agreement with the EU
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Russia's Federal Customs Service /FCS/ completed the "special operation" against Ukrainian imports. On Tuesday, the FCS notified the Ukrainian authorities that it was returning to the usual mode of checking the cargoes coming from that country. Expert said it was Russia’s attempt to prevent Ukraine from signing a free trade agreement with the European Union.

The acuteness of the situation is gone; the FCS is not using additional customs control procedures on Ukrainian goods, the Kommersant quoted the Ukrainian ministry for revenue and tax collection as saying.

The newspaper reminded that on August 14, the FCS tightened control over all Ukrainian products, especially the ST-1 certificate showing that the goods were manufactured in Ukraine which exempts them from import duties. Ukrainian politicians explained the FCS decision by Russia's wish to compel Ukraine to join the Customs Union /comprising Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan/ or foil Ukraine's signing a free trade agreement with the European Union.

The Kommersant notes that Russia presented the tense situation on the border as the result of arbitrary policies by the FCS, which had to be corrected personally by President Vladimir Putin.

According to presidential aide Sergei Glazyev, "a one-time inspection of Ukrainian cargos might become permanent if Ukraine signs the association and free trade zone agreement with the EU," which it plans to do at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November 2013.

Ukrainian experts have different forecasts for the future. Director of the global strategies institute Vadim Karasev, cited by the newspaper, believes that "the blockade of Ukrainian exports by Russia might ease the EU conditions for signing the agreement."

For its part, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes that Ukraine is going for aggravation of gas relations with Russia. Head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy Eduard Stavitsky told Reuters that Ukraine would purchase 30 percent less gas from Russia's Gazprom this year than in 2012. Last year, the Russian gas giant fell short of seven billion dollars due to a decrease in purchases of Russian gas by Ukraine.

The seller is Germany's RWE Supply& Trading GmbH. However, the volume of supply only reaches one-tenth of the demand, with the price of European gas slightly lower than Russia’s, averaging 385 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters versus Gazprom's $405.

Liquefied natural gas will become another energy source for Ukraine in the future. It will be transported by tankers across the Black Sea to a floating terminal which Ukraine plans to lease from Excelerate Energy of the United States.

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