China / World

Russia and Ukraine fail to clinch gas deal

By Ren Qi in Moscow (China Daily) Updated: 2019-10-30 07:54

Talks over the terms for the supply of Russian gas to Ukraine and the European Union ended on Monday without an agreement.

The latest round of negotiations, in the Belgian capital Brussels, involved Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, EU Energy Commissioner Maros Sefcovic and a delegation from Ukraine.

Novak said after the meeting that the talks will resume at the end of November, a month before the current supply deal expires.

Contract negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have covered the length of a new agreement, transit volumes and tariffs.

The three parties had last met on Sept 19. The EU is particularly keen to secure a long-term agreement to secure gas supplies for the coming winter. It receives Russian gas through pipelines that cross Ukraine.

Ukraine's Interfax news agency said that although the current gas transit agreement between Moscow and Kiev expires on Dec 31, the country has enough natural gas in storage to last the winter.

Ukraine hasn't bought Russian gas directly since 2015, a year after a referendum in Crimea - then part of Ukraine - endorsed the region's integration into Russia. The vote was held after separatist conflicts broke out in the easternmost regions of Ukraine: Luhansk and Donetsk.

"We discussed issues relating to gas supplies for Ukraine," said Novak, adding that Russia has noted the readiness of Ukraine to act. The Russian gas would be sent west through pipelines crossing Ukraine from 2020.

As for Russia, it is ready to ensure gas transit through Ukraine that year in accordance with European law, if the Ukrainian side enables this, but "specific figures will be discussed later", Novak said.

However, Sefcovic, who is also acting as a mediator in the talks, said Russia and Ukraine need to embrace a sense of urgency in their negotiations.

"My message today and in all our meetings ... was that the time is flying. And, given the date, there is and there must be a clear sense of urgency," Sefcovic told a news conference. "I am disappointed by today's outcome."

He said both sides lacked the political will for progress. "The parameters, which I presented have been acceptable to our Ukrainian partners... unfortunately ... the Russian delegation was not prepared to do the same," Sefcovic said.

"We all agreed that disruption of supplies is a non-option. Nevertheless, we in the EU are fully prepared for any scenario."

Andriy Kobolyev, the chief executive of Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz, said Ukraine held "pretty much the same view" as Sefcovic.


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