Ukraine may be granted access to Russian oil and gas fields if a joint gas transport consortium is set up, Russia`s president told a news conference Thursday, according to RIA Novosti.

A bitter gas price row with Russia`s energy giant Gazprom last winter led to shortfalls in gas supplies to Ukraine amid Arctic temperatures in January, prompting fears that a similar situation could develop again this year.

"Our Ukrainian partners would like not only to create a gas transport consortium, but would also like to gain access to oil and gas extraction assets on Russian soil," Vladimir Putin said, adding that Russian and Ukrainian experts are currently looking for an optimal format for such projects.

"We need to understand the scale on which our Ukrainian partners would like to participate and exactly what assets they are looking for," he said, adding that Ukraine`s proposals are "revolutionary."

"I would like to meet with Viktor Yushchenko soon, as well as perhaps with the Ukrainian prime minister, to discuss their proposals," Putin said.

Ukraine currently imports a mixture of Russian and Turkmen natural gas at $95 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Concerned over energy security, Ukraine is exploring the possibility of linking its pipeline system to the 3,400-kilometer (2,113-mile) Nabucco route, to run through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. The construction of the pipeline will begin in 2008, so that it could go on stream in 2011.

The European Commission and the energy ministries of the countries crossed by Nabucco approved the $5.8 billion project last June.

Both Ukraine and the European Union hope the alternative pipeline will help them diversify supply routes away from Russia and thus boost their energy security.