#29 - JRL 2009-165 - JRL Home
Moscow Times
September 4, 2009
Tymoshenko Says Winter to Be Warm
By Anatoly Medetsky

Ukraine and Russia have agreed to prevent a “traditional” cutoff of gas to the rest of Europe during the coming New Year’s holiday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said Thursday.

“Both sides ­ Russia and Ukraine ­ agreed that for Christmas there won’t be the traditional stunts such as gas crises,” she said at a Cabinet session in Kiev.

Tymoshenko met Putin for talks in Poland on Tuesday, but the only result of the meeting that was released at the time was Russia’s agreement not to charge Ukraine for importing less gas than is contractually stipulated.

Ukraine’s contract with Gazprom requires the country to pay for 80 percent of the gas it committed to purchase even if it doesn’t use it. Ukraine is importing less gas because the global economic crisis sharply reduced consumption there.

The Ukrainian prime minister may be especially determined to avoid a gas dispute with Russia this winter ­ and a stain on her reputation in the eyes of pro-Russia voters ­ because she is expected to run in Ukraine’s presidential election in January.

Tymoshenko also said Ukraine would hike the transit fees for Russian gas by 65 percent to 70 percent next year, depending on the price of oil. She was responding to local news reports that Ukraine would cut its gas transit rates next year as a return favor.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said in an e-mailed statement that the company expected the rate to rise 60 percent at most, to $2.70 for transporting 1,000 cubic meters over 100 kilometers from the current price of $1.70.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko estimated on Thursday that Ukraine would owe Gazprom $5.2 billion for the deliveries in the first half of this year if Putin hadn’t relented on the lower imports. Another Gazprom spokesman declined to comment on the figure.

Tymoshenko said Ukraine would not be able to buy as much gas as the contract requires next year as well. The country will import from 27 billion cubic meters to 33 bcm of gas next year, compared with this year’s expected imports of 33 bcm, she said.

A copy of the contract posted on the web site of newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda said Kiev had to import at least 41.6 bcm next year but could renegotiate this amount. A Gazprom spokesman reached Thursday evening declined comment, saying the contract was confidential.

Ukraine’s national energy company, Naftogaz Ukrainy, will pay $667 million for August deliveries without delay, Ukraine’s acting Finance Minister Ihor Umansky said, Interfax reported.

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