Voices from Russia

Friday, 9 January 2009

Medvedev: Russia is Ready to Resume the Transportation of Natural Gas to Europe via Pipelines in the Ukraine


Aleksei Miller (1962- ), CEO of Gazprom (left) with President Dmitri Medvedev (1965- ) (right) (Mr Medvedev was formerly the CEO of Gazprom before becoming President of the RF)

Meeting in Moscow Friday with Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller, President Dmitri Medvedev named the conditions under which this country would immediately resume the pumping of natural gas to Europe across the Ukraine. He said that in his latest phone conversation with President Viktor Yushchenko, he gave the main conditions as joint monitoring of the transit flow by Russia, the Ukraine, European corporate customers, and the EU, and the signing of a new agreement with Kiev. Mr Medvedev noted that he has no confidence whatsoever as to the good faith of the Ukrainian side.

He said, “I spoke with the Ukrainian president and passed on to him the six conditions under which the Russian Federation and Gazprom propose to use in working with the Ukraine. Part of the discussion dealt with the creation of a monitoring body. Many European leaders already approved this proposal. As a part of this monitoring body, there should not only be representatives from Russia and the Ukraine, there should also be members from European corporate customers, and governmental and expert observers from the EU. They should wield real powers and track the functioning of all parts of the supply chain including pipes and underground storage facilities with the requisite technical equipment.  Only monitoring can bring about transparency and expose who is stealing Russian natural gas”.

Why is there such difficulty in resolving the question concerning the creation of an international monitoring commission to oversee the delivery of Russian natural gas through pipelines on Ukrainian territory? Why did the Ukrainian side oppose, until today, the inclusion of Russian representatives on the commission controlling the flow of Russian natural gas? Mr Miller had a good idea why they acted in such a manner. “It creates the impression that a fear of exposure and economic loss, to put it mildly, is the main motive for opposing the creation of such a board. We know full well that the Ukraine has stolen Russian gas for quite some time. Indeed, it has gone on for many years, according to our sources in the Ukraine. Independent supervision of transit would force it to act in an honest and above-board manner. Not all would be happy on the Ukrainian side”.

Meanwhile, bargaining has been rumbling on. Under strong pressure by the EU, the Ukraine accepted the presence of representatives from Gazprom and the RF Energy Ministry on the proposed monitoring commission. The Ukrainian side also accepted the EU proposal that the international commission shall include members from Russia, the Ukraine, European consumers of natural gas, and independent expert observers. Mr Miller said that Naftogaz, the Ukrainian gas company, has finally entered into negotiations with Gazprom. As soon as an agreement concerning the creation of an international monitoring commission, as stipulated by the Russian side, is signed, and the observers of the commission are in place to monitor the transit of natural gas at both Russian and Ukrainian locations, the deliveries of natural gas to Europe via Ukrainian pipelines shall resume.

9 January 2009

Voice of Russia World Service


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