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Russia, Ukraine may hold gas talks on December 5

Kiev expects the Russian side to confirm the date of the future meeting

MOSCOW, December 3. /TASS/. Russia and Ukraine may hold talks to resolve gas issues on December 5, if Gazprom and Naftogaz are ready, Russia’s Minister of Energy Alexander Novak said on Tuesday.

"No date has been set yet, as work is still going on between the companies," Novak said.

"If the companies are ready by this time, then we are ready to hold the meeting on the 5th (December - TASS)," he added, commenting on the proposal of the Ukrainian side to conduct negotiations on December 5.

On Monday, Minister of Energy and Environmental Protection of Ukraine Aleksey Orzhel said that the next round of consultations on the terms of transit and supplies of the Russian natural gas to Ukraine may be held on December 5. "Speaking about the closest dates… That may be on December 5 preliminarily," he said, adding that Kiev expects the Russian side to confirm the date of the future meeting, and that no such confirmation has been received so far.

The minister also confirmed that Kiev is considering the possibilities of resuming direct supplies of the Russian gas to the country, on the condition though that the gas price will not be ‘politically motivated’, and that it will stipulate the compensation related to execution of the Stockholm Arbitration Court’s judgement.

"We reiterate that the price (of gas supplies to Ukraine should be - TASS) indicative European," he said, adding that it is "critical" to Kiev, and that the price should stipulate "a discount from the European indicator," meaning the compensation on the Stockholm Arbitration proceeding between Naftogaz of Ukraine and Gazprom.

"Or we have another option - to go further to arbitration," Orzhel said.

The contract for the supply and transit of gas through Ukraine between Gazprom and Naftogaz ends on December 31, 2019. Russia, Ukraine, and the European Commission continue to hold consultations on the transit of Russian gas to the EU through Ukrainian territory since 2020, although the dialogue is complicated by litigations between Gazprom and Naftogaz.

Moscow offers a "package solution" that includes a settlement agreement on litigation and direct gas purchases at reduced rates. As a fallback, Russia is ready to extend the current transit agreement for 2020.

However, Ukraine considers rejection of litigation and signing of a short-term contract unacceptable. At the same time, in November, Executive Director of Naftogaz Yury Vitrenko announced that Ukraine would pump transit gas from Russia to its underground storage facilities if it would enter the country without an appropriate contract starting January 1, 2020.