Russia Expects Adequate Response From Europe on Ukraine Gas Transit Issue – Putin

ST. PETERSBURG, May 23 (RIA Novosti) – Russia hopes that European leaders will adequately and reasonably react to the situation related to Russian gas transit through Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday.

“Unfortunately, we have not received yet a clear and direct answer. We expect an adequate and balanced reaction by our partners. This would coincide our common interests, those of Russia, Ukraine and European countries,” Putin said.

The European Commission has said it believes Russian gas giant Gazprom is responsible for gas deliveries to Europe in the required volumes. The statement followed after Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said that the contract with Ukraine includes commitments to transport Russian gas to Europe and responsibility for any siphoning off of transiting gas.

Ukraine’s debt for Russian gas deliveries reached $3.5 billion as of the end of April. Russia has decided to switch to a prepayment scheme due to the outstanding bills, in full accordance with the countries’ contract. Following the decision, Gazprom prepared an advance bill for Ukraine’s Naftogaz for June deliveries. In case of non-payment, Russia can suspend the gas supply to Ukraine starting June 3.

Major European companies have asked the European Commission, the EU’s powerful executive body, to provide political guarantees that the gas, transported through Ukraine, will not disappear after it is pumped to storage facilities, but Brussels has failed to provide them.

The next round of trilateral talks on gas between Russia, Ukraine and the European Union is scheduled for May 26.

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