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4 Mar, 2024 15:18

Ukraine names condition for continued Russian gas transit to EU

Kiev has said that it has no intention of prolonging its current agreement with Gazprom, which expires at the end of this year
Ukraine names condition for continued Russian gas transit to EU

Ukraine would continue the transit of Russian natural gas through its territory to Western Europe after 2024 only if EU countries ask it to do so, Prime Minister Denis Shmigal has announced.

Ukraine’s vast gas pipeline network has been used for years to transport natural gas from sources in Russia to needy markets in the EU. However, the current transit agreement between Ukraine and Russian energy giant Gazprom expires at the end of this year.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Shmigal reiterated Ukraine's position: that it has no intention of engaging in negotiations with Russia or signing an agreement with Gazprom.

“If European countries act either as a consortium or if any of our European partners wishes to transit their gas, we are ready to provide such a service. The ball is in the court of the EU and our European partners,” Shmigal said, as quoted by the news agency Interfax Ukraine. “It could be a group of European countries that are interested in maintaining the transit of gas,” he added.

Ukraine is still a key route for Russian gas to reach countries such as Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, even though flows on the transit pipelines have been less than 40% of the contracted volume since 2022, when the EU unleashed a sanctions campaign against Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine. Another buyer of Russian gas, Hungary, said last week that transit via Ukraine was obsolete because Türkiye had provided an alternative.

According to Bloomberg, even without a new deal, Gazprom may maintain supply to willing EU buyers by booking short-term capacity in Ukraine via capacity auctions.

The European Commission also confirmed on Monday that it does not intend to engage with Moscow on transit of Russian gas to EU members through Ukraine, the news agency Ukrinform reported, citing European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson.

The EU instead plans to “get rid” of Russian gas by 2027 at the latest and is working to find alternative supply routes and alternative suppliers, Simson said.

The head of Russia’s Energy Ministry Nikolay Shulginov said in January that if Russia’s customers in the EU are interested in continuing gas transits, a solution may be found.

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