MOSCOW, August 10 (Itar-Tass) —— Ukraine’s gas transportation system was created in 1948 when the first Soviet 512-kilometre gas pipeline Dashava-Kiev became operational.
The system is the second largest in Europe and one of the biggest in the world. It has 71 compressor stations with a combined capacity of 5,405.1 MW, 13 underground gas storage facilities for more than 32 billion cubic metres or 21.3 percent of Europe’s active capacity.
The network of underground gas storage facilities includes four complexes: West-Ukrainian (Pre-Carpathian), Kiev, Donetsk, and South Ukrainian.
Trunk pipelines and their extensions are 37,000 kilometres long and have a throughput capacity of 288 billion cubic meters at the entrance and 178.5 billion cubic metre at the exit, including 142.5 billion cubic metres to Europe.
Naftogaz Ukrainy’s subsidiary Ukrtransgaz is the monopoly transit service provider.
Ukraine’s gas transportation system delivers about 80 percent of Russia’s natural gas to Europe. Its cost is estimated at about 25 billion euros.
As for the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space, Moscow has made a series of calls to Ukrainian partners.
According to Yanukovich, Ukraine’s attitude towards the Customs Union is based on the strategy of national pragmatism.
“This strategy is described by the ‘3+1’ formula [Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan plus Ukraine]. We are trying to convince our partners to build relations by this formula. Ukraine will then have an opportunity to join these processes, including in the fields of energy, gas and atomic energy, and in the development of uranium deposits. We are also interested to use our machine-building complex for the needs of the energy sector,” the president said.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin responded to these proposals several days ago: “We cannot say yet what kind of decisions we can make, but I hope that we will see noticeable and important steps, useful for all parties to this process. Government experts are working on the ‘3 + 1’ pattern proposed by our Ukrainian friends – three members of the Customs Union plus Ukraine.”
The talks in Sochi can also touch upon the need to further strengthen the legal framework for the presence of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine.
On April 21, 2010, Medvedev and Yanukovich signed an agreement on the presence of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine. It extended the term of deployment for 25 years after 2017 with a possible further extension for another 5 years.
After the break-up of the USSR in 1991, the Black Sea Fleet became a bone of contention between Russia and Ukraine. The issue of dividing it was hot on the agenda. The first move to resolve it was the signing in Mukhalatka (near Yalta) on August 3, 1992, of the agreement on the principles of forming the navies of Russia and Ukraine on the basis of the Black Sea Fleet of the former USSR.
The parties conducted difficult negotiations for five years. As a result, they signed the agreements in Kiev on May 28, 1997 on the division, mutual settlements, status and terms of stay of the Black Sea Fleet in the territory of Ukraine.
Under these agreements, the Russian fleet is to stay in Sevastopol for 20 years, until 2017. The annual payment for the lease is 97.75 million dollars.
Russia has no plans to leave Sevastopol ahead of time, but intends to build facilities for the Black Sea Fleet in Novorossiisk, the chief of the Russian General Staff, Nikolai Makarov, said.
“We have no goal of leaving Sevastopol. We want to accommodate all units and formations of the Novorossiisk naval base in the first place,” he said.
Meanwhile, Russia is building a new Black Sea Fleet base for deep-draft surface ships in Novorossiisk. The construction of the Black Sea Fleet base in Novorossiisk began in 2005. The project covers all ship, aircraft and coastal infrastructure. Work is expected to be completed by 2020.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the construction of the base would cost 92 billion U.S. dollars.
The main base of the Black Sea Fleet ships and all infrastructure for marines, coastal troops and naval aviation will be ready by 2017-2020. Up to 80 warships of various classes will be deployed in Novorossiisk.
A sub-commission was set up in 2005 to deal with issues pertaining to the presence of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine. The sub-commission last met on January 27, 2011 in Kiev.
Ukraine has lately offered its shipyards for repairing and upgrading Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and merchant marine.