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25 Oct, 2021 11:18

European gas crisis: Ukrainian opposition leader slams Zelensky for delaying offer to Russia of extra pipeline transit capacity

European gas crisis: Ukrainian opposition leader slams Zelensky for delaying offer to Russia of extra pipeline transit capacity

Against the background of a European gas crisis, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s decision to give Russia extra transit capacity at a discounted rate is the correct choice, but Kiev took far too long to make the offer.

That’s according to Viktor Medvedchuk, chairman of the Political Council of Opposition Platform – For Life, the country’s largest opposition party. He is currently under house arrest, after being accused by the authorities of high treason and “aiding terrorism.” The politician says the criminal charges against him are trumped-up.

In an interview posted on his faction’s website, Medvedchuk agreed that Zelensky’s belated offer to increase the amount of gas running through the country’s pipes is the right thing to do. The president’s offer was extended not only to Russia but all countries wishing to use Ukraine’s infrastructure.

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“It is very good, I think, that finally President Zelensky and his entourage have understood that our pipelines have enormous opportunities,” Medvedchuk said. “The proposal to increase the pumping through our pipelines by 50% is absolutely correct.”

On Sunday, the state-run Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz revealed that the company is ready to provide additional transit of up to 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year at a 50% discount, which would significantly reduce the cost for Russia. Moscow currently pays billions of dollars in fees to Kiev for transiting natural gas through Ukraine.

The lower offer comes as Naftogaz seeks to compete with the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The controversial project was completed last month but is not yet operational. It directly connects Germany to Russia via the Baltic Sea, allowing Moscow to send gas without transiting other countries.

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As Nord Stream 2 is already complete, Zelensky’s proposal is now long overdue, Medvedchuk believes.

“Today, Russia seems to be interested in launching Nord Stream 2 and not in increasing the amount of gas pumping through Ukraine’s transportation system,” the opposition leader said. “But we must come to an agreement, and we must make an offer. We must look for common opportunities for the development of trade and economic relations.”

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