Russia, Ukraine set to resume gas talks
(RIA Novosti) - Russia and Ukraine are expected to resume talks on Tuesday on their long-running natural gas dispute, which has sparked concerns among European consumers.
The former Soviet allies partially resolved their dispute on Thursday, agreeing that Ukraine would pay off about a $1 billion of its debt and that talks would continue on a supply scheme for 2008, after Russian gas monopoly Gazprom restored supplies, which were cut by 50% early last week.
Ukraine's presidential spokesman earlier said the talks would be based on a deal reached by Presidents Viktor Yushchenko and Vladimir Putin in mid-February, when they agreed to remove intermediaries, which Kiev earlier blamed for accumulating its gas debt, and set up two joint ventures between Gazprom and Ukraine's national energy company Naftogaz.
However, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has objected to creating new joint ventures, insisting on direct deals between Gazprom and Naftogaz.
Yushchenko issued instructions to Naftogaz on the talks on Friday, reiterating that Gazprom's share of gas shipments and direct gas sales within Ukraine could be between 25 and 50%.
The former Soviet allies agreed last year to supply gas at $179 for 1,000 cubic meters in 2008 for Central Asian gas brought by Gazprom, the price for Russian gas was set at $315 per 1,000 cu m.
Also on Tuesday, the European Commission is to convene a gas coordination group meeting to discuss the crisis between Moscow and Kiev. During a similar gas row on the 2006 New Year, Gazprom briefly cut off supplies to Ukraine, which transits about 80% of Russia's Europe-bound gas. Some European consumers reported a shortfall in gas shipments.