Ukraine, Russia Open Gas Price Talks

Posted June 7th, 2011 at 1:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov says he hopes to find mutually beneficial solutions to the problem of Ukraine's gas contracts during talks in Moscow Tuesday with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

At a meeting of the Ukrainian-Russian intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation, Mr. Azarov said his country believes the existing market-based agreement is unrealistic and burdensome for the Ukrainian economy.

He also noted that Ukraine is the largest buyer and transit agent of Russian gas to European countries, and that it pays for natural gas shipments on time.

Ukraine has been trying to renegotiate the price it pays for Russian gas. It also wants to charge Moscow a higher fee for gas that Russia sends through Ukraine to the European Union.

On Monday, Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said he would not consider renegotiating the gas price for Ukraine despite the country's calls for contract revisions.

Russia pumps the majority of its gas exports to Europe through Ukraine. But Moscow has suspended the deliveries several times in recent years during pricing disputes with Kyiv. The disputes have interrupted Russian gas supplies to many European countries during cold winter months.

Gazprom is the world's largest natural gas extractor and Russia's largest company. The company has a monopoly over Russia's pipelines and fuel exports.