BRUSSELS, May 09 /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said he does not rule out the possibility of suspension of gas supplies to Ukraine given the unpredictable situation in that country, if the gas debt problem is not settled.
"As for the possibility of halt in gas supplies to Ukraine, I cannot rule out anything, given unpredictable events in that country, if the problem of the gas debt which reaches some 3.5 billion dollars is not settled in time," Chizhov told Russian reporters.
“A technical meeting of experts on gas will be held in Brussels May 12, and we think have the level of chiefs of departments [at appropriate governmental agencies and corporations - Itar-Tass] he told a group of Russian reporters, adding that it should be a prelude to a ministerial meeting, the date of which has not been discussed yet.
“As for the ministerial meeting, there is high probability it will be held May 16 and the Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, the European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, and the Ukrainian minister Yuri Prodan meet at the conference table,” Chizhov said. “Athens is very likely to be the venue of these talks, as an informal meeting of EU energy ministers will be held there May 16.”
He indicated that the discussion on gas is developing along three main directions now.
“In the first place, there’s the problem of payment for gas and a return of the debt, the existence of which is not denied by anyone, even the authorities in Kiev, which however have claims against the amount of debt,” Chizhov said.
“Secondly, it’s the assuring of uninterrupted transits of Russian gas to EU countries, including the problem of replenishment of reserves in the underground tank farms on the territory of Ukraine where extra volumes of gas are dispatched to Europe from in the wintertime if the demand for gas makes unexpected hikes,” he said.
“The third issue is the alternative reversed supplies of gas to Ukraine from the EU member-states,” Chizhov said.
The first meeting in the trilateral format on gas that involved Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, European Commissioner Guenther Oettinger and Ukrainian minister Yuri Prodan took place May 2 in Warsaw. An agreement on holding another two meetings of the same time - in the middle and at the end of May - was reached there.
Authorities in Kiev can hope only for the money from the IMF as a source for which they will pay off the debt for natural gas, which has reached $ 3.5 billion, not for the money from the European Commission, Chizhov said.
“As for Ukraine’s debt for natural gas, it is Naftogaz Ukrainy (the national oil and gas monopoly - Itar-Tass) as the signatory of the contract that should make payments,” he said. “And where will they take the money from? From the IMF loans, most obviously because no other sources are in sight - the European Commission is insolvent as such.”
“That’s why one of the problems discussed today is whether they’ll be able to use the IMF monies for the purpose and if their amount will be enough for these payments.