Fresh EU-Russia-Ukraine Talks Launched Today

Written by | Monday, May 12th, 2014

Representatives of the European Union, Ukraine, and Russia are meeting in Brussels today (May 12) to give a fresh start to their mutual gas talks focusing mainly on the future of Russian supplies to Ukraine and the Union. The negotiations are meant to prepare the ground for a second round of high-level talks later this month. This will be the next meeting of energy ministers following the Warsaw meeting at the beginning of this month.
In Warsaw, Russian Energy Minister Novak, Ukrainian Energy Minsiter Prodan, and EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger, agreed that gas supplies would not be halted while negotiations were ongoing. Since then, nonetheless, the Ukraine crisis has intensified with pro-Russian forces in the southeast of the country pushing for plans of a referendum on independence from Ukraine. Last week Moscow announced that Kiev would have to pay for all future gas supplies in advance as the country still owes billions of dollars in outstanding bills to Russia. Although this move was anticipated, it nevertheless raised the stakes immensely given the fact that EU28 relies on Russia for about a fourth of its gas supplies out of which about a half transits through Ukraine.
The European Commission said that today’s talks will carry on with the agenda that was agreed on in Warsaw. The emphasis will be put on covering ongoing gas transit and supply, Ukraine’s debts as well as the price Kiev has to pay to Russia. Additional topics are expected to include transparency and reliability of gas flows. Brussels announced that the next ministerial meeting would take place in mid-May but would not confirm Russian reports scheduling it on May 16 in Athens. Today’s meeting coincides with a first trip to Kiev by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy as well as EU foreign ministers meeting in the European capital that aims to discuss a new round of additional sanctions to be imposed against Russia.

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