KIEV, November 21. /TASS/. Ukraine does not view a short-term interim contract on the transit of Russian gas as an acceptable solution to the current standoff, Ukrainian Prime Minister Alexei Goncharuk said on Wednesday.
"Ukraine does not need an interim contract for one year," he told reporters. "What Ukraine needs is a long-term contract [with Russian gas giant Gazprom], which would on one hand ensure the full-scale use of Ukraine’s gas transportation system and on the other - energy security of Ukraine and Europe."
The head of the Ukrainian government refused to go into details about provisions of the possible future contract, but said that his country was looking for "predictable, mutually beneficial, stable conditions of work with European partners according to European rules."
The current contracts on gas supplies to and transit via Ukraine expire on December 31. By that date, Russia plans to commission two gas pipelines bypassing the Ukrainian territory - Nord Strem-2 and Turk Stream. Ukraine, in turn, has commitments to introduce the European energy laws by the yearend.
Russia is ready to conclude a gas transit contract under the European rules in case Ukraine manages to complete all the relevant procedures. As a fallback option, the Russian side suggests the current contract be extended for 2020. Apart from that, Russia is ready to resume gas supplies to Ukraine, which stopped in 2015, at a price reduced by 25%
The major stumbling block in those talks are mutual lawsuits between Naftogaz and Gazprom. Gazprom had suggested to waive all mutual claims as part of a package solution to continue gas transit through Ukraine after January 1, 2020. So far, at the expert level, the parties have not made progress on this issue.
The European Commission (EC) has recommended direct purchases of the Russian gas totaling around 15 bln cubic meters per year to Ukraine to reduce expensive reverse supplies, a source in the EU’s institutions close to trilateral gas talks told TASS on Wednesday. Naftogaz later rejected this information. According to the Ukrainian company, the European Commission recommended that Gazprom "conclude a long-term contract with a significant amount according to European rules and with the new Ukrainian GTS operator, because it meets the commercial interests of all parties and ensures the energy security of Europe."
On Wednesday, a technical trilateral meeting between Russia, the EU and Ukraine on gas was held in a teleconference format.