SOCHI, December 4. /TASS/. Russia is ready to maintain gas transit through Ukraine, although the Ukrainian side still offers Russia unacceptable conditions, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference after talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday.
"I constantly repeat that we are ready to preserve Ukrainian transit, we are currently negotiating this in Vienna, this is no secret. However, the possible conditions that Ukrainian transit companies offer are not economically acceptable for us so far," he stated, answering a question about possible termination of gas transit through Ukraine to Europe from January 1, 2020, due to expiration of the contract between Gazprom and Naftogaz.
At the same time, Putin noted that he hopes that the conditions will change through negotiations. "I hope that this is a bargaining position and it will be possible to somehow coordinate the positions," he claimed.
Talks between Russia and Ukraine were held in Vienna last week. On Friday, representatives of Gazprom and the operator of Ukraine’s gas transmission system discussed technical issues related to the conditions for the transit of Russian gas to Europe since 2020. It was agreed to continue working together this week.
Russia’s Minister of Energy Alexander Novak noted earlier that Russia and Ukraine may hold talks to resolve gas issues on December 5, if Gazprom and Naftogaz are ready.
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.
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 after 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 entered the country without an appropriate contract starting January 1, 2020.