Russia, EC Make Headway on Ukraine Gas Supply

Russia, EC Make Headway on Ukraine Gas SupplyRussia, EC Make Headway on Ukraine Gas Supply

Russia and the European Commission made progress toward ensuring stable gas supplies to Ukraine and via that country to the European Union this winter, the EU executive said on Friday.

The European Commission said it held "constructive" talks on the issue with Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller on Friday, Reuters reported.

"The meeting ... focused on the actions needed to ensure stable gas supplies to Ukraine and via Ukraine to the EU during winter," the commission said after the meeting in Vienna.

The next step would be a trilateral meeting with Russia and Ukraine, and to finalize a new package "in the near future", it said in a statement.

Novak, however, said a deal had been reached.

"In our opinion, we managed to reach an agreement on a winter package," he said after the meeting.

Russia accounts for about a third of Europe's gas needs, with Ukraine a key transit route. Moscow and Kiev have had a number of gas pricing rows in the past, which have disrupted supplies to the EU.

Moscow and Kiev agreed last year on a winter package for supplies with a price discount of $100 per thousand cubic meters and advance payments. That agreement expired on July 1 and has yet to be replaced.

Novak was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying on Friday that Russia was ready to give Ukraine a price discount similar to the one it gives neighboring countries, such as Poland. He did not specify the discount.