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European Commission urges Russia and Ukraine to settle gas dispute

The commission's vice president has said that the situation "raises concern"

BRUSSELS, March 2. /TASS/. The European Commission (EC) is concerned of Russian gas transit to the European Union because of disagreements between Gazprom and Naftogaz of Ukraine, EC Vice President Maros Sefcovic said in the statement on Friday.

"It is the Commission's view that this situation raises concerns not only for the direct supply of natural gas to Ukraine but possibly also for the transit of gas to the EU," Sefcovic said.

The European Commission "calls on all parties concerned, companies and respective Ministries of Ukraine and Russia, to find immediate solutions in line with the decisions of the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal," the official said. "The Commission stands ready to steer a trilateral process which in the past has already proven to be effective in situations of disagreement," Sefcovic noted, adding that he will contact energy ministers of Russia and Ukraine by phone "in order to assess the situation and to agree on the necessary next steps."

The EU countries cannot provide for a prompt increase in reverse supplies of natural gas to Ukraine because of technical difficulties and weather conditions, Sefcovic said. "Increasing reverse flows from the EU at a short notice is challenging at the moment because of tight spot markets (low temperatures throughout EU) and difficulties to technically rearrange the flows within the Gas Transmission System," he said.

"It is important that both, Russia and Ukraine reaffirm their respective positions of a reliable supplier and transit country of gas, as was the case over the past years," the EC Vice President added.