MOSCOW, December 21. /TASS/. An agreement between Russia and Ukraine to continue gas transit has opened opportunities for other agreements, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak told reporters on Saturday.
"Yesterday, when we finished the negotiations and inked [the deal], I said that we opened a vent window of opportunity and made sure that in spite of all the difficulties in our relationship in general, we can reach agreements on a wide range of issues. Let’s do our best to enlarge this vent window to a door, to make it so wide that we can (find solutions - TASS). We have lots of issues in case we act pragmatically and constructively," he said.
Kozak pointed out that the deal was made possible thanks to Ukraine’s constructive part.
"I would like to say thank you. I am afraid that without the coordinating part of the Ukrainian side, the agreement could not have been possible. Yermak [aide to the Ukrainian president, Andrey Yermak - TASS] took on this role."
"We have a lengthy experience of cooperation with him," the deputy prime minister added.
Direct gas supply
Russian Deputy Prime Minister also told that Russia and Ukraine could return to talks on the resumption of direct gas supply into Ukraine after the New Year days off in case the conditions of the recent deal on gas transit to Europe are implemented.
"We will be speaking about that after the New Year holidays. We have agreed that we will consider this possibility," Kozak said.
"We need to have all these issues (related to the contract on gas transit to Europe - TASS) settled by the New Year, so that it cannot poison our relations. We should settle mutual claims, should make them null [and void]," he said.
"We need to solve urgent issues related to gas transportation to consumers and, the main thing, to settling all the mutual claims and lawsuits," he added.
Kozak specified that all these issues should be resolved during next week. According to him, both Ukraine and Gazprom believe this timeframe is realistic to be fulfilled.
Price for organization of gas transit to European Union
The Russian-Ukrainian gas agreement stipulates that Naftogaz Ukraini will be in charge of transit organization, while Gazprom will pay for its services upon relevant issues are resolved, the Russian deputy prime minister told reporters on Saturday.
"We have a simple and comprehensible line of relations: Naftogaz Ukraini provides services to us, we have fixed the volumes, we have fixed payments for these services. Within that amount, Naftogaz Ukraini settles all the issues related to tariffs, to reservation of capacities, and so on," Kozak said.
"It will be the responsibility of our partner Naftogaz Ukraini," he added.
Kozak also said that Kiev plans to impose a new tariff on Russian natural gas transit via Ukraine until the end of 2019, but the issue will be settled by Naftogaz Ukraini, since the company assumed responsibility for organizing gas supply to European consumers.
"Some sort of tariff will be set by Ukraine in conformity with Ukrainian legislation by the end of the year," he said.
"However, we are no longer interested in that issue now. It will be Naftogaz’s headache. We told Naftogaz how much we would be ready to compensate them for this service, but we are not concerned about the tariff. As for the cost, I do not want to disclose a commercial secret, first of all, that of Naftogaz Ukraini," he concluded.
Extension of gas transit contract for 10 years
Kozak noted that Russia and Ukraine may return to the issue of ten-year extension of the contract on Russian natural gas transit to Europe in 2024.
"We have achieved a political agreement that, in case everything goes right in accordance with this plan, then some volumes of gas will be in demand despite the construction of new capacities. Provided that this plan works and there are no more complaints and scandals and provided that all the sides truly meet their commitments, why not. We will consider the issue in 2024, a chance to extend [the deal] for a longer term," he said when asked about the possibility of concluding a contract for ten more years.