Ukraine is ready to join trilateral talks to discuss gas issues with Russia on 9 December in Brussels, the country’s state energy company Naftogaz said on its Twitter account yesterday (5 December).
For a third consecutive year, the EU will mediate between Ukraine and Russia in securing Ukraine’s gas purchases from Russia, which are also needed to secure the transit of Russian gas to the EU.
Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič has been trying to strike a trilateral deal, called “Winter Package”, since summer. The European Union is eager to mediate between Kyiv and Moscow, because in 2009, when Gazprom stopped deliveries to Kyiv, the country used gas destined for Europe for its own domestic consumption, and left several EU countries in the cold.
But this time both Ukraine and Russia were reluctant to engage in trilateral talks. Ukraine said it will try to deal without Russian mediation. The former Soviet republic has not bought gas directly from Russia since November 2015, following a breakdown in relations after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian separatism in Ukraine’s war-torn east.
For its part, Gazprom said EU help is not needed and that a pre-payment from Ukraine was enough to make gas flow again.
Šefčovič visited Moscow on 25 November and assured his host, Energy Minister Alexander Novak, that Ukraine has means to purchase gas and will receive additional funds in the near future.
The Russian agency TASS quoted Novak saying that Russia may supply an additional 1.5 to 4 billion cubic meters of gas to Ukraine, and that this possibility would be discussed at the trilateral meeting between Russia-EU and Ukraine.
Finally, Ukraine’s Naftogaz confirmed its readiness to participate in the trilateral meeting in Brussels.
We confirm the Ukrainian side is ready to hold trilateral #gas talks in Brussels this Friday, 9 Dec
— Naftogaz of Ukraine (@NaftogazUkraine) December 5, 2016
The European Union relies on Russia for about a third of its gas. More than half of that arrives via Ukraine, but since ties between Russia and Ukraine hit rock bottom, the potential for disputes over pricing and other issues has accelerated.
To ensure safety of gas supply, Ukraine’s underground gas storage needs to be filled, the replenishment usually taking place until mid-October. The Commission recently said that the current gas storage level was only enough in case of a mild winter.