BRUSSELS, January 21. /TASS/. The trilateral gas talks of Russia, the European Union and Ukraine started in the ministerial format in Brussels, TASS reports from the site.
The key topic of talks will be prospects of gas transit via the territory of Ukraine after the contract with Russia expires on December 31, 2019. The European Union may face the need of significant increase of macro-financial aid to Ukraine if transit is halted.
The European Commission traditionally staged bilateral meetings with Russia and Ukraine before the trilateral negotiations.
The prospects of gas transit through Ukraine after the contract with Russia will be a top-priority issue at the Russia-Ukraine-EU ministerial gas talks, Russian Permanent Representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov told TASS earlier. According to the Russian envoy, the significance of these negotiations is somewhat weakened by the fact that the presidential election is due to be held in Ukraine in early spring, while the pan-European elections in the EU will be held in May 2019, which will result in the change of the European Commission’s composition and the change of the leadership of all other European institutions.
In early December 2018, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak stressed that the date of the expert meeting on gas between Russia, Ukraine and the EU would be agreed on in the near future, after which the date of the trilateral gas negotiations would be set. The previous trilateral talks were held in July.
It was planned that the next meeting would be held in October 2018, but it has been put off more than once since then. In mid-December, the European Commission suggested holding that meeting in the second half of January.
Contracts for the supply and transit of Russian gas through Ukraine will expire in late 2019. The issue of continuing the transit after 2019 has been discussed, in particular, in light of the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which will bypass the transit countries.