BERLIN, May 26. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia does not intend to leave Europe’s energy market, Russia’s senior government official said.

The EU countries could not get along without Russian gas, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in an interview with the Handelsblatt business newspaper on Monday.

Russia intends “to preserve all contracts with European partners”, he said.

Commenting on the EU’s wish to diversify energy import and reduce its dependence on Russia, Novak said, “We have heard such statements for years. But Europe has no prospects for developing without Russian gas in the near future.”

Shale gas supplies from the US will not help overcome this dependence, he said. “We go easy on such competition,” Novak added.

Speaking about the gas deal with China, he said, “No principle ‘either or’. We have enough oil to supply such amount that will be in demand – both to Europe and Asia.”

Ukraine’s debt stands at $3.5 billion. If Ukraine does not pay the debt until the end of May, Russia will supply it on a pre-payment basis from June. However, Kiev refuses to pay the debt and disagrees with Russia’s decision to raise prices.

Ukraine is a transit country for Russian gas exports to Europe, so this could hamper gas supplies to European consumers. In order to avoid supply disruption in May, the consultations within the Russia-Ukraine-European Commission format have been launched.