Putin to EU: Help Ukraine Pay for Winter Gas

Putin to EU: Help Ukraine Pay for Winter Gas
Putin to EU: Help Ukraine Pay for Winter Gas

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Europe should help Ukraine pay upfront for natural gas to guarantee steady winter supply, Bloomberg reported.

“The European Commission can and should lend a hand and help Ukraine,” Putin said at a press conference after meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Ukraine won’t get Russian gas unless it prepays and Europe should extend loans or aid to help it do so, he said.

Russia, Ukraine’s main gas supplier, halted deliveries in June over a pricing and debt dispute as a separatist conflict raged in the east of the smaller country.

The EU, which depends on Russian fuel piped across Ukraine for about 15 percent of its needs, has been seeking to broker a deal between the two former Soviet allies to avoid a repeat of supply cuts in early 2006 and 2009.

European aid could be discussed at EU-brokered talks in Brussels planned for next week. Ukraine and the European Commission should “find” about $1.6 billion by the end of the year for upfront payments through a bridge loan or a guarantee of “first class” European lenders, Russia’s Energy Ministry said on its website after the talks.

Ukraine also agreed to pay $3.1 billion of debt for past supplies by year end, which was another condition for the resumption of deliveries, Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller said in Milan.

Poroshenko also told reporters that they didn’t deliver “any practical result” on the dispute. “We made a certain amount of progress, but left some details which need to be discussed,” he said. Poroshenko said he hopes for a solution before talks on Oct. 21.

In return for Ukraine’s agreement to an EU proposal from September regarding past debt, Russia plans to resume deliveries after the first payment and an advance for coming supplies, decreasing its price through March by $100 to $385 per thousand cubic meters before international arbitration decides on competing claims over debts and pricing.