MOSCOW, December 16. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed natural gas supplies to Europe in a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Kremlin’s press service said on Monday.
"Issues of cooperation in the gas sector pertaining to provision of energy security of EU countries were covered, including in the context of prospects of Russian natural gas transit via the territory of Ukraine after January 1, 2020, and implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project," the press service said.
Leaders of Russia and Germany "gave a positive assessment of the results of the summit in the Normandy Format, held in Paris on December 9, where certain steps were agreed to implement the Minsk complex of measures, which is the sole option for the settlement in southeastern Ukraine," the press service added.
The current contract between Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz on gas supplies to and transit via Ukraine expires on December 31, 2019. Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission continue consultations on transit of Russian gas to the European Union via Ukraine after 2020, but the dialogue is being complicated by the legal wrangling between Gazprom and Naftogaz.
Moscow insists on the so-called "package solution" when the parties are to drop mutual claims and sign a contract on direct gas purchase at a discounted price. As a fallback option, Russia suggests the current transit contract be extended to 2020. However, Ukraine is reluctant to drop litigation and sign a short-term contract.