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Summit will prove gas dispute not political - Russian analyst

Moscow, 15 January: Russia's proposal to hold a summit of Russian gas consumers in Moscow will make it possible to limit the opportunity for Ukraine to turn the gas supply crisis into an international political issue, the president of the Effective Politics Fund, Gleb Pavlovskiy, has said.

"I believe that the idea of holding the summit is a good one because in theory it can limit opportunities for Kiev to blow the gas supply crisis, an economic issue, out of proportion and to turn it into a political issue. This is what is happening at the moment," he said.

Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev proposed on 14 January that a summit of countries which are Russian gas consumers be held in Moscow on 17 January.

According to the analyst, the Ukrainian leadership sees turning the gas supply crisis into a political issue as the only way out for itself. "Ukraine is blowing the political aspect of the crisis out of proportion because it seems that it has no other political resources for putting pressure on Russia," Pavlovskiy added.

"Bad political leaders have their own logic, like the Georgian leadership last year. Ukraine wants the crisis to escalate because it does not see a convenient way of resolving it," he said. In Pavlovskiy's opinion, the current Ukrainian leadership will not change its position.

"If the Ukrainian leadership reverses, it will have to explain to European partners why it aggravated the current recession and difficult economic circumstances for Europe. Kiev will not do this," he added.

The Ukrainian leadership is using the fact that "the European Union's political correctness is stopping the Europeans supporting Russia in this crisis directly", Pavlovskiy said. "Kiev is blackmailing Europe, counting on political support from it over the fact that Ukraine has a Euro-Atlantic orientation and Russia does not," he said.

"We are effectively dealing with an attempt of the Ukrainian leadership to cause a local European aggravation of the world crisis and thus save itself politically," he said.

The summit could help Russia and the EU bring their positions closer together in resolving problems caused by the crisis, he said. "I do not believe that the crisis could be resolved quickly under the current Ukrainian leadership, which will be looking for ways of causing the crisis to escalate the best it can," Pavlovskiy said. "The only tactics for Russia and European partners should be to provide detailed explanations and to continue insisting on international monitoring of gas transit," he added.

The EU has more than once spoken of the feasibility of carrying out the Nabucco project to deliver gas from the Caspian region bypassing Russian territory. Taking into account the gas crisis, such statements have become even more frequent. "We would like to organize a summit on the south corridor in Brussels in order to obtain the implementation of the Nabucco project," the Czech ambassador to Russia, Miroslav Kostelka, said at a news conference at Interfax's central office. (passage omitted).