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Key EU energy official to go to Moscow to talk Ukrainian gas transit in mid-June — source

Earlier, deputy head of the European Commission for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic suggested that the leadership of Ukraine should hold a new ministerial meeting on gas with Russia and the EU

BRUSSELS, May 22. / TASS /. The deputy head of the European Commission for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic has plans to visit Moscow on June 13 to discuss the gas transit to the EU through Ukraine after 2019 with the Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, a European source told TASS on Wednesday. Another topic on the agenda is the holding of a new trilateral ministerial meeting on gas.

"Sefcovic, after the talks in Ukraine, plans to visit Russia on June 13, during which he will meet with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and other Russian government representatives, to discuss the issue of continuing gas transit through Ukraine after the expiration of the contract in 2019, "he said. "Following the previous round of negotiations, the European Union made a proposal for discussion by Ukraine and Russia, based on which, a compromise is possible in the preservation of the Ukrainian transit," the source said.

Earlier, Sefcovic suggested that the leadership of Ukraine should hold a new ministerial meeting on gas with Russia and the EU to discuss the future of gas transit to Europe as soon as possible, a European diplomatic source told TASS. Sefcovic attended the inauguration of Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelensky in Kiev on May 20.

"European Commission’s Vice President Maros Sefcovic is holding meetings in Kiev with representatives of the new president’s team and with Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman. He suggested that a new trilateral ministerial meeting on gas be held as soon as possible to discuss the transit after 2019 (when the contract with Gazprom expires - TASS)," the source said. The European official stressed that Brussels "understands the difficulties of the political cycle in Ukraine after the announcement of the early parliamentary elections, but consider the settlement of the gas transit issue to be urgent." "We cannot allow even a brief interruption of gas transit through Ukraine in 2020, since it may not be possible to restart if Russia can deliver 100% of the volume under the contracts to Europe via new routes bypassing Ukraine," the source said. The source stressed that the EU institutions are ready to provide "maximum support to maintain the Ukrainian gas transit, but they act only as intermediaries, and therefore they need the interest in negotiations and readiness for compromises from both sides."

The last trilateral gas transit meeting at the ministerial level was held in Brussels on January 21. The parties failed at that time to reach understanding on gas transit via Ukraine and actions filed against each other by Russia’s Gazprom and Naftogaz of Ukraine.

The parties agreed to resume talks in May after the presidential election in Ukraine.


In January of this year, President Vladimir Putin once again confirmed that Russia was ready to continue gas supplies through Ukraine, if they are economically feasible. He added that Russia is ready to fully load both the Nord Stream and the Turkish Stream pipelines, but at the same time, the possibilities for maintaining transit through Ukraine will remain. The contracts Gazprom and Naftogaz signed in 2009 (both on gas supplies to Ukraine and on gas transit to Europe) expire at the end of 2019.

The fate of gas transit through Ukraine is also being discussed in the context of the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, which has already begun, and which bypasses the transit countries.

After the tripartite meeting of the EU, Russia and Ukraine in July, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Energy Union Maros Sefcovic said that Moscow and Kiev admitted the need to work on a new agreement, which will take effect from 2020.

However, the relevant negotiations may complicate legal proceedings between Gazprom and Naftogaz on gas contracts.


Legal dispute


In February 2018, the Stockholm arbitration ordered Gazprom to pay the Ukrainian company $2.56 bln. The Russian side filed an appeal and initiated the termination procedure for both contracts, while the Ukrainian side proceeded to enforce the recovery of funds through the seizure of Gazprom assets in Europe. Gazprom, in turn, disputes these interim measures.

Before the start of negotiations in Brussels, Naftogaz said they were ready to reduce the amount of the claim to Gazprom on transit to $2 bln from $12 bln in case of signing a new contract.