Russia ready to extend gas transits through Ukraine once legal dispute settled – energy minister

Russia ready to extend gas transits through Ukraine once legal dispute settled – energy minister
Russia, the EU and Ukraine held talks Tuesday over the extension of a gas transit contract between Moscow and Kiev which expires next year. Russia says the transit will be extended when legal issues are settled with Ukraine.

"In my opinion, the negotiations have been constructive enough. We exchanged information, exchanged views on the current situation and the prospects for gas supplies to European consumers through the territory of Ukraine," Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said after negotiations in Berlin on Tuesday. The next talks will be held in October, he added, after experts from all sides discuss the transit volumes.

The negotiations were held between Russia, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic. The meeting was also attended by top executives from major Russian energy firm Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz.

Russia is ready to extend transits through Ukraine, Novak  said, repeating the words of President Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki meeting with US President Donald Trump. Putin said Russia will extend the current transit contract with Ukraine if the two sides can settle their legal battle.

Earlier this year, the Stockholm Arbitration ordered Russia's Gazprom to pay Ukraine's Naftogaz $2.6 billion in compensation over a gas transit dispute. Gazprom has not paid Naftogaz while the Russian company is appealing the court decision. At the same time, the Ukrainian state company has been trying to seize Gazprom’s assets in Europe.

According to Novak, Moscow insists that Kiev drop the demand to sieze Gazprom's European assets until the dispute is resolved. Russia doesn’t rule out the possibility of a settlement with Ukraine, he added.

Germany’s Altmaier said he expects difficult talks but “it's possible to reach solutions ensuring that Ukraine's justified security interests are protected well beyond 2020 and that substantial gas transit from Russia to Europe through Ukraine will take place.” Ukraine’s Klimkin didn’t comment on the talks.

Kiev is concerned that Gazprom will cut its transits through Ukraine after the current contract expires and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany is built. However, President Putin has assured both Brussels and Washington that transit through Ukraine will continue.

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