Kasyanov: standoff with Ukraine was `big mistake`
Former Russian PM criticizes Moscow`s gas standoff.
Former prime minister of Russia Mikhail Kasyanov said that Moscow`s standoff in January over gas prices that cut off supplies to Ukraine by state-owned Gazprom, which also affected deliveries to western Europe, was a "big mistake", according to Interactive Investor.
Speaking in Brussels, Kasyanov -- prime minister between 2000-2004 and tipped to be a candidate in Russia`s 2008 presidential election -- said: "This was a big political mistake. It must never happen again."
He said the dispute raised questions over the "reliability of supplies" and added that is was wrong that gas was used as a "political weapon" over the issue.
Late last month, the European Commission called on Gazprom to stick to its contractual commitments and warned it against threatening crucial European energy supplies.
The commission reacted after Gazprom warned the EU not to "politicise" terms for Russian gas supplies, implicitly threatening to sell its product elsewhere.
Gazprom has threatened to route gas supplies away from Europe towards Asia if its plans to expand are blocked by EU member states.
Russia is the biggest provider of gas to the EU, supplying over 20 pct of the bloc`s needs.
Kasyanov called for the reform of the company`s monopolistic position in the Russian energy market.
"Right now, Gazprom is eating everything (in its) way. It is a negative development, what we have now. Gazprom must be reformed," he said.
Kasyanov also called on the EU and Russia to reinvigorate talks on closer relations in the energy sector.
"We need to start a real technical and political energy dialogue," he said.
In early March, the commission launched a green paper on energy issues, focused on threats to the security of supply and market competition, that included the need for the EU to secure a long-term pact with Russia.
However, at the end of the month, the commission said that it believes Russia will not ratify the Energy Charter Treaty -- which sets the rules for the international energy trade -- despite the EU`s desire to persuade it to do so.
Kasyanov said that it is unlikely a full energy deal on the issues could be struck in the "near future".
"I don`t think that during this year or next year something revolutionary in energy relations will happen".
The commission says that 70 pct of EU energy needs could be covered by imports by 2030. It also said energy demand in the bloc would grow by 20 pct by 2030 from 2010 levels.
It said that for the same period, demand for natural gas could rise by 60 pct.