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Gas conflict didn't damage Russia seriously as a supplier - EU envoy

MOSCOW/BRUSSELS. Jan 25 (Interfax) - The conflict over Russian gas shipments to Europe has not done any serious damage to Russia as a supplier, Russia's permanent envoy in the European Union Vladimir Chizhov has said.

"I don't think Russia's image in Europe has suffered seriously, overall. The picture is not just black-and-white, and it has many colors," Chizhov said in an interview with Interfax.

Generally speaking, everyone was aware from the start what had happened and whose fault it was. There were no illusions at all about the political situation in Ukraine, or the known conflict between the president and prime minister's clans, although part of the political elite in European countries found it difficult to overcome empathy for the ideals of the Orange Revolution, the more so, since there were people among them directly involved in those events. Concerning their attitude to Russia, a bias could be seen behind the rhetoric on Russia's reliability as a supplier and on Ukraine's reliability as a transiter," he said.

While commenting on Czech special services' arguments that the conflict will, by all accounts, repeat itself in the future, Chizhov said, "Have the Czech special services some unique sources in Kyiv, or is it just mere guessing? It is clear that the political situation in Ukraine will continue to influence this problem one way or another," he said.

Chizhov said the situation surrounding gas shipments luckily did not influence the talks on a new partnership and cooperation pact between Russia and the European Union, "A third plenary round is to be held on February 13 to be attended by the chief negotiators (including Chizhov on the Russian side)," he said.

Regarding the Energy Charter, he said, "it must either be reviewed, if the other signatories agree, or a new one should be drafted."

"Ukraine has signed and ratified the treaty to the Energy Charter, but now, as three years ago, it did not bother to make use of the Energy Charter mechanism. Nor did we (Russia signed but has not ratified the treaty to the Energy Charter). Then what is it all about?" Chizhov said.

"It isn't the only pebble on the beach. I don't rule out that Russia and the EU will forge some mutually acceptable agreement in a bilateral format. We will opt for what suits us better. The future will show what form this will take," the Russian diplomat said.