MOSCOW, April 28. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia, Ukraine, the European Union may hold trilateral gas talks in Warsaw on May 2, the Russian Energy Ministry said on Monday, April 28.
“Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger achieved a preliminary agreement in a telephone conversation to hold trilateral consultations in order to resolve the crisis in Ukraine’s payments for Russian gas supplies,” the ministry said.
“The Ukrainian delegation has yet to confirm its participation,” it added.
A source in the Energy Ministry told ITAR-TASS that Ukrainian acting Energy and Coal Industry Minister Yuriy Prodan, who is to attend the meeting as well, would make the decision on the issue on Tuesday, April 29.
Novak earlier invited Oettinger to meet in Moscow on April 28 to discuss the matter. The EU commissioner reaffirmed the European Commission’s readiness to conduct multilateral gas talks at the political level.
Oettinger sent a letter to Novak on April 23, stating his intention to convene such a meeting but “did not specify either its place or date”.
Novak, in turn, invited Oettinger to meet in Moscow on April 28 and discuss the Ukrainian gas issue.
The minister is prepared to discuss other proposals concerning the venue and time of the meeting, his spokesperson Olga Golant told ITAR-TASS.
Oettinger has reaffirmed the European Commission’s readiness to conduct multilateral gas talks at the political level.
At present, the gas talks are expected to be held between different expert groups: between Slovak and Ukrainian gas operators and within the Slovakia-Ukraine-EU format, the spokesperson said.
The European Commissioner invited Novak and his Ukrainian counterpart Yuriy Prodan to tripartite consultations, Oettinger’s spokesperson said, adding that their date and place had not been specified yet.
Russia also “expressed hope that the European Union will take measures towards the speediest disbursement of financial aid to Ukraine by European financial institutions, which will be used, among other things, for ensuring Naftogaz of Ukraine’s timely payments for natural gas supplies from Gazprom”, the Energy Ministry said.
It believes this will help to prevent unauthorised siphoning of gas from transit amounts in Ukraine and will help further strengthen Europe’s energy security.
Ukraine’s debt for gas supplies stands at $2.2 billion. Gazprom Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev believes that the debt may reach $3.5 billion by the end of April.
Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said on April 25 that consultations between Russia, the EU and Ukraine on the supplies of Russian natural gas to Ukraine might take place very soon.
“(They will take place) in the next few days I think,” he told reporters.
Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov also confirmed that a ministerial meeting on gas between Russia, the European Union and Ukraine would most likely be held on April 28.
He thus confirmed a statement made by Dominique Ristori, the European Commission’s Director General for Energy, that there was the understanding and willingness to hold the meeting as early as possible and that in all likelihood it would take place in Brussels early next week.
“We invite the European Commission to hold consultations with Russia, the EU and Ukraine without delay.