Ukraine’s prime minister said on Tuesday that a deal like the one Belarus has struck with the Russian state-run gas giant Gazprom would be unacceptable for Kiev.
“Belarus is following its own path, and Ukraine has its own,” Mykola Azarov, the Ukrainian prime minister, said.
Russian energy giant Gazprom holds 50 percent of the Belarusian gas transportation company Beltransgaz and is currently holding talks on acquiring the remaining half of the company’s stock.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Russia would offer a reduced gas pricing formula to Belarus from 2012 as part of integration processes between the two ex-Soviet republics, adding that the issue would be linked to the acquisition by Gazprom of the remaining 50 percent in the Belarusian gas transportation company Beltransgaz.
Gazprom has also long been trying to get a stake in the Ukrainian gas transportation system to ensure uninterrupted gas supplies to Europe.
Ukraine’s gas network, which includes more than 37,500 kilometers of pipe plus 71 compressed air plants and 13 underground gas storage facilities, pumps 141 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe a year and accounts for 80 percent of Russian gas transit to EU nations.
Kiev has so far resisted Gazprom’s attempts to buy a stake in its gas transportation system, saying this move would undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty.
The Ukrainian authorities, however, believe that a gas deal concluded in 2009 by then-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko with Russia is “disadvantageous” for Ukraine, and have long been seeking to review the contract’s “unfair” price formula.
Russia has tied the price for gas to the international spot price for oil, which has been shooting up recently due to instability in the Middle East.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said in June that the Russian energy giant could offer a gas price rebate for Ukraine if Kiev allowed a merger of Gazprom and Ukraine’s national energy company Naftogaz, a move vehemently opposed by the Ukrainian authorities.