EU urges Russia, Ukraine to resume gas supplies
It said the EU monitoring mission...
The European Commission said on Sunday that there is no reason for Russia and Ukraine to further delay the restoration of gas supplies to the European Union (EU), according to Xinhua.
"The Commission considers that all conditions required by the two parties have been met and there is no reason to delay the restoration of gas supplies any further," the EU`s executive arm said in a statement.
It said the EU monitoring mission has already reached most of their destination points and it is already starting their monitoring work, a key condition Russia has insisted on before resuming gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine pipelines.
With intensive diplomatic efforts, the EU finally persuaded Moscow and Kiev early Sunday to sign a deal on the deployment of international observers to monitor Russian gas transit via Ukraine.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said once the monitoring mechanism starts working, Russia would restart gas supplies.
But the fresh deal appeared on the verge of collapse later Sunday after Russia rejected a declaration added by Kiev.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the deal was off due to Ukraine`s additions, plunging the resumption of gas supplies to the EU into doubt again.
"I cannot call such stipulations and additions other than a mockery of common sense and violation of earlier achieved agreements," he said.
"These actions, in fact, aim to disrupt the existing agreements on monitoring gas transit and are clearly provocative and destructive in essence... I therefore order the government not to implement the document signed yesterday."
But the European Commission said that nothing in the Ukrainian declaration "adds to" or "subtracts from" the deal already signed, and it did not affect the validity of the monitoring deal.
The Commission also said Kiev had agreed to re-sign a deal, minus the declaration to ease Russia`s concerns.
All Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine were shut down Wednesday as a gas row between Russia and Ukraine escalated, creating supply crisis for a number of EU countries, mostly in Central and Eastern Europe.
Factories were shut down, schools closed and thousands of people left without gas for heating due to the severe gas shortage amid freezing weather.
Russia supplies about one-quarter of the EU`s natural gas, and some 80 percent of it is transported through Ukraine.