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EU members drafting joint response to Putin’s message

April 14, 2014, 18:07 UTC+3
The EU will preserve unity, and members of the European Union will not enter into bilateral negotiations with Moscow, Poland’s prime minister stated
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Prime Minister of Poland Donald Tusk

Prime Minister of Poland Donald Tusk


WARSAW, April 14. /ITAR-TASS/. EU countries are drafting a joint response to the letter of Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding the Ukrainian gas debt. Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk stated this while visiting the 32nd base of tactical aviation in Lask.

“The EU will preserve unity in relations with the Russians,” he said, adding that a joint answer would be prepared to the Russian leaders’ message addressed to 18 European leaders.

“It is important to us that the EU acts as a united force, and we are satisfied to receive information that all the European partners support a joint response, but not bilateral negotiations,” Tusk said.


The message of Putin’s letter

April 10, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin due to a critical situation in Ukraine has sent a letter to 18 European leaders, whose countries are buying Russian natural gas. In his message, the Russian president has extensively explained the aspects of Kiev’s indebtedness for supplies of Russian gas.

Gazprom does not bring and does not intend to bring any additional conditions as compared with those stipulated by the 2009 contract. This also refers to the contract price for the gas, which is calculated strictly in compliance with the negotiated formula. However, Russia should not and cannot be the only supporter of Ukrainian economy any further, providing it with natural gas discounts and waiving debts, in fact paying with its subsidies the deficit in the trade of Ukraine and EU countries, the message says.


Political demands to Russia

Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt, in his turn, informed about three main requirements to Russia regarding the situation in Ukraine and threatened Moscow with economic sanctions.

“First, Russia should revoke the mandate for using military forces, second, to dissociate from armed groups occupying buildings, and third, Russia should withdraw troops from Ukrainian border,” Bildt said.

The Swedish minister insists that the refusal to comply with these requirements will lead to toughening of EU sanctions. “If Moscow doesn’t do that, we would be moving forward with the sanctions,” Bildt noted.

The minister arrived for the planned meeting of ministers of foreign affairs of the 28 EU members.


How large is Ukraine’s debt

On Wednesday, April 9, President Vladimir Putin held a special meeting devoted to the situation around Ukraine.

“Three billion dollars is Ukraine’s debt, the accumulated gas debt stands at $2.2 billion, and what we consider Russia's profit shortfall stands $11.4 billion, which brings the total sum to $16.6 billion,” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the meeting.

He recalled that Russia and Ukraine have an agreement signed in 2009, which should be implemented. In his words, the document stipulates “a switch to the advance system of gas payments if the debt has not been repaid”.

“We could have switched to the advance payment system earlier, but we did not do that because we understood the difficult economic situation in Ukraine,” Medvedev said.

However, Putin asked Gazprom to refrain from demanding prepayment for gas from Ukraine until more consultations have been held.

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