Ukraine's Yanukovych suggests Russia give up South Stream
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych suggested that Russia should give up its South Stream project and take part in modernizing Ukraine's gas transportation system instead, RIA Novosti reported.
Yanukovych said Friday that should Russia and the European Union agree to take part in the upgrade, the "South Stream project will fall off by itself."
Ukrainian authorities earlier called on Russia to drop the idea to build the South Stream pipeline, which would bypass Ukraine, but Russian officials said the country plans to construct the pipe despite its interest in managing the Ukrainian gas transportation system.
The South Stream project envisions construction of a pipeline to transport Russian gas along the Black Sea bottom to Bulgaria and on to Europe. The pipeline is also promoted by the Russian authorities as a rival to the Nabucco project.
"We should create all conditions, provide all guarantees, technical and political, to Russia and the EU that Ukraine is a reliable partner," Yanukovych said.
Russian gas exports to Europe via a pipeline in Ukraine have been disrupted several times in recent years over pricing rows with Kiev. The most recent dispute in early 2009 left Europe without Russian gas for nearly two weeks.
Kiev earlier discussed the issue of modernizing its pipelines with Russian energy giant Gazprom, but the sides have not yet come to an agreement. Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said his company may fund the modernization if Ukraine's gas company Naftogaz merges with Gazprom, but Ukraine has so far opposed the idea.