EU energy ministers gather to discuss Russia-Ukraine gas feud

12:45, 12 January 2009
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A dispute over gas...

An emergency meeting of energy ministers from the 27 EU member-states is due to take place in Brussels on Monday to discuss the crisis over disrupted Russian gas deliveries, according to RIA Novosti.

The gathering will address the situation surrounding gas supplies to the European Union, as well as energy security for the bloc.

A dispute over gas payments and pricing between Ukraine and Russia led to a complete shutoff last Wednesday in deliveries of Russian gas to Europe via Ukraine. Around 80% of Russia`s gas exports to Europe pass through Ukrainian pipes.

The EU brokered a deal on monitoring the transit of Russian gas across Ukrainian territory at the weekend, but despite EU monitors arriving at stations in both countries deliveries have not restarted due to Moscow`s objections over a declaration Kiev attached to the document.

The European Commission said the addition, in which Ukraine declared that it had paid its debt to Russia and had not stolen Russian gas destined for Europe, did not affect the agreement as signed, but Moscow declared the deal null and void.

"Such conditions make a mockery of common sense and are a violation of agreements we reached earlier," President Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday. "Such actions are meant to thwart the agreement to monitor the gas transits - they are blatantly provocative and destructive."

Speaking by telephone to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Putin said Kiev`s new demands drastically changed the three-party agreement and dealt with commercial disputes between Russia and Ukraine rather than the transit of gas to Europe.

Ukraine will likely sign a new version of the document on Monday without the declaration.

Putin also proposed sending Russian energy officials to the meeting of EU energy ministers. "Our representatives are ready to voice and explain Russia`s position in full," he told Barroso.

National experts met last Friday in Brussels at an EU roundtable on gas supplies and called the crisis "unprecedented." They discussed the union`s energy security with a view to ending reliance on gas transit through Ukraine.

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