Ukraine Rejects Once Again Russian Gas Transit

Business | January 16, 2009, Friday // 00:00

The Ukraine has once again refused to fulfill the request of the Russian energy monopoly "Gazprom" for the transit of 99,2 M cubic meter of gas, the Russian information agency "Novosti" reported Friday.

Novosti are quoting the spokesperson of the Ukrainian "Naftogaz" Valentin Zemlyansky.

Zemlyansky confirmed that the transit of Russian gas through the Ukrainian territory remains impossible.

"Our answer is the same as the one from yesterday: a technology agreement first, gas transit second," the spokesperson declared.

In the mean time there is growing frustration with both countries among European officials.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is due to meet Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Germany on Friday, warned that Russia could damage its reputation as a reliable energy supplier if the dispute continued.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has further warned Russian and Ukrainian gas companies that they could be sued for failing to meet their obligations.

The Russian President Dmitry Medvedev proposed Wednesday that Moscow hosts a Saturday meeting of all countries using Russian gas and all transit countries. Initially, the Ukrainian Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulya Timoshenko stated that she supported the idea, but the Ukraine would attend such meeting only if it would be held in a neutral country.

Timoshenko and her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin negotiated the meeting during a late night phone call. On Thursday Russian and Ukrainian Cabinets confirmed that they will hold talks in Moscow on Saturday.

Some are skeptical that the meeting will bring a solution to the problem. After high-level talks in both Moscow and Kiev, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said he could not see how the two sides could be reconciled any time soon.

Top EU officials, such as EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and Czech Energy Minister Martin Riman, also plan to join Russia and Ukraine in high-level talks in Moscow to resolve the gas crisis.

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