Tue, January 20, 2009
World > Europe > Russia-Ukraine gas row

EU awaits resumption of gas flow after Russia, Ukraine deal

2009-01-20 02:43:48 GMT2009-01-20 10:43:48 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Russian Premier Vladimir Putin (2nd R), Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (2nd L), Russian Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller (1st R) and Ukrainian Naftogaz chief Oleg Dubina attend the signing ceremony in Moscow, capital of Russia, Jan. 19, 2009. Russia and Ukraine signed a contract on supplying gas to Ukraine over the next 10 years. (Xinhua/Shen Bohan)

BRUSSELS, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) said on Monday that it is awaiting the resumption of gas flow after Russia and Ukraine finally signed a 10-year contract of gas supply.

"We now need an indication of the precise time that gas deliveries will be resumed," the European Commission, the EU's executive arm said in a statement, adding it had noted a deal was finalized between Russia and Ukraine.

Officials from Russian gas monopoly Gazprom and Ukraine's state-run gas company Naftogaz signed a 10-year gas supply deal in the presence of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko in Moscow on Monday.

Under the deal, Ukraine will buy Russian gas at a 20 percent discount to European market prices this year. In return for the discount, Kiev agreed to keep its transit fees for Russian gas to Europe at a preferential level in 2009. Both sides will switch to a market-based price formula from 2010.

The deal was expected to end a gas pricing dispute between Moscow and Kiev that led to the cutoff of Russian gas supply to Europe via Ukraine for almost two weeks.

Czech Minister of Trade and Industry Martin Riman, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, said it was necessary to remain cautiously optimistic even though the contract had been signed.

"For the EU the decisive moment will be the moment when the restored supplies are observed on its borders," Riman said.

The commission said EU monitors will verify when the gas actually starts to flow.

Russia cut off gas supplies via Ukraine to Europe on Jan. 7, one week after it halted gas supplies to Ukraine due to failed talks on pricing and terms of fees.

Russian gas giant Gazprom reopened its taps to Europe on Tuesday under a three-way agreement signed by the EU, Ukraine and Russia, but no gas reached Europe.

Russia accused Ukraine of blocking the gas flow, while Ukraine argued that Russia's choice of the gas route was technically "unacceptable."

The deal had been hammered out at a weekend summit between Putin and Tymoshenko, which was also attended by EU officials.

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