From Russia with love: Brussels and Moscow close to an agreement on Ukraine’s gas supplies

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Energy Union at the Western Balkans Summit last August (EC Audiovisual Services, 27/08/2015)

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Energy Union at the Western Balkans Summit last August (EC Audiovisual Services, 27/08/2015)

Following a few months of mere “meditation”, the European Commission and Russia held a bilateral meeting in Vienna last week where they finally made progress on Ukraine gas supplies and energy security. Russia was represented by the Minister for Energy, Mr. Alexander Novak and the CEO of Gazprom, Mr. Alexej Miller. The EU was represented by Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Energy Union.

The meeting took place “in a constructive atmosphere” and focused on the actions needed to ensure stable gas supplies to Ukraine and via Ukraine to the EU during winter, as it was underlined by the Commission in an official statement. “The meeting was also the occasion to exchange views on matters regarding the EU-Russia energy relations such as energy infrastructure”, the Commission added.

A step forward

The meeting, which took place with the initiative of the European Commission, undeniably represented a great step forward in the EU-Russia issue, and contributed to restart discussion over the implementation of Russian gas transmission projects in Europe. Last week’s EU-Russia talks also laid the foundations for a next round of trilateral gas negotiations between the European Commission, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

However, the Russian minister for energy indeed told reporters that a deal had been reached. “In our opinion, we managed to reach an agreement on a winter package,” he said after the meeting. He also stressed that the fate of the agreement now depends on Ukraine. “If they agree it, we could meet next week”, he said.

From Russia with love

Mr. Novak did not stop there and gave more important news to the reporters who gathered in Vienna for the event, news that has been awaited for more a few months. Novak was quoted by Ukrainian news agency Interfax saying that Moscow, which has been quite reluctant so far, was ready for a “price discount for the winter period to set the price at the level of neighbouring countries like Poland”. He did not specify the discount though.

According to Reuters, Russia believes that the EU is now ready to provide $500 million for Ukraine to resume gas purchases. The Russian side declared that the EU was offering that amount of money to Kiev specifically for purchasing gas from Gazprom. Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller soon commented that such agreement would give Ukraine “the opportunity to pump another 2 billion cubic meters of gas” into underground storage.

Russia-Ukraine crisis

Year-end discussion over gas and energy supplies prices has always been a familiar question between Russia and Ukraine, but clearly the ties collapsed altogether last year. Relations between the two countries dramatically deteriorated following the conflict between Ukrainian government troops and separatists in Ukraine’s east, which horribly resulted in thousands of casualties.

Kremlin has always denied all charges that its troops are directly supporting the separatists and has always been critic over the Western sanctions that have hit its economy.

A better scenario

The whole Russia-Ukraine situation though seems to be improving on many fronts now. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with his Russian, Ukrainian and French counterparts in Berlin last Saturday and stated that “significant progress” had been made towards a resolution of the conflict between Kiev and Moscow.

The new ceasefire that came into effect on September 1, which both Ukrainian and rebel forces are broadly respecting according to OSCE, is showing some more optimism over the question. Also positive statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said he welcomed that fighting had stopped in eastern Ukraine, represent another big step ahead.

European needs

Both Russian gas supplies and Ukrainian pipelines are fundamental for the Old Continent. The EU gets around a third of its natural gas from Russia, and up to the 50 percent of that flows through Ukraine. The EU estimates that it stocks around 14.9 billion cubic metres of gas in underground storage as of September 11, while it would need around 19 in storage to be warm for winter by mid-October.

However, there’s a slight concern that Ukraine itself doesn’t have alternative gas provision to get through winter and that it would consequently need to buy more for Russia in any case. With this scenario, last week’s talks become even more crucial.

The importance of securing Ukraine’s winter gas supplies has been also highlighted by European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker during his State of the European Union speech last Wednesday September at the European Parliament.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

These are the fastest trains in the world

CHINA UNLIMITED. PEOPLE UNLIMITED. RESTRICTIONS LIMITED

On Brexit: the outcome of UK elections next May to be based on false promises?

Ministers for Youth miss the opportunity to improve social inclusion of young people

This is Amsterdam’s ambitious plan to turn its transport electric

Palestinian children’s education deeply impacted by ‘interference’ around West Bank schools, UN warns

EU-India summit: Will the EU manage to sign a free trade agreement with India before Britain?

Number of MEPs to be reduced after EU elections in 2019

Why Africa must be ready to take the quantum leap

VAT Gap: EU countries lost €137 billion in VAT revenues in 2017

Sign language protects ‘linguistic identity and cultural diversity’ of all users, says UN chief

Further reforms will move Slovakia toward a more innovative and inclusive society

Our food system is no longer fit for the 21st century. Here are three ways to fix it

UN chief calls for ‘far greater support’ for Cyclone Idai response

Northern Bahamas ravaged by ‘disaster of epic proportions’ as UN releases $1 million in emergency funds

ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly: strengthening the partnership

Why Eurozone’s problems may end in a few months

Science is ‘key’ to pushing forward the 2030 Agenda, UN development forum told

Why we need a moderate approach to moderating online content

UN and Red Cross chiefs appeal for end to use of explosive weapons in cities

Promoting rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU

Cancer is a growing global threat and prevention is key, UN study shows

From a refugee camp to Davos: one Co-Chair’s story

ECB will be the catalyst of Eurozone’s reunification

General Assembly officially adopts roadmap for migrants to improve safety, ease suffering

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “If we do not do properly the Paris agreement, then all 16 remaining goals will be undermined”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cautions from Davos

These are the world’s best countries to retire in, as of 2019

Blockchain can change the face of renewable energy in Africa. Here’s how

Ceasefire holds in Tripoli, but core problems remain, says UN Libya mission chief

Medical workforce migration in Europe – Is it really a problem?

The Banking Union may lead to a Germanic Europe

‘No justification’ for attacks against civilians, UN envoy says on mounting cross-border violence in Gaza

Why education and accountability are important for developing countries?

What could a no-deal Brexit mean for developing countries?

Evidence shows ‘brutal’ killing of Saudi journalist ‘planned and perpetrated’ by State officials: UN independent expert

Amazon sinks while our breath sinks

Energy of African youth ‘propelling’ new development era as UN ties bear fruit

UN global counter-terrorism strategy review an ‘overarching vision for the future’: Assembly President

Brexit: No deal without marginalizing the hard Tory Eurosceptic MPs

A young European voice on Grexit: too high a bill and too big a deal!

Innovation is the key to the pay-TV industry’s long-term growth

Will Europe be able to deal with the migration crisis alone if Turkey quits the pact?

Ensure that widows are ‘not left out or left behind’, UN chief urges on International Day

UN chief welcomes re-opening of key Gaza border crossing

Press coverage of migration crisis in Europe: a call for collaborative action

The European Agenda on Migration: EU needs to sustain progress made over the past 4 years

Macron in St. Petersburg didn’t oppose Trump on Iran, in Putin’s presence

EU’s Mogherini visits Turkey “to step up engagement” and highlight interests

Sri Lanka PM: This is how I will make my country rich by 2025

Jo Cox’s murderer believed the ‘leave’ campaign leaders that the ‘remain’ vote is treason

It’s just electronic cigarette, don’t worry?

Cities are easy prey for cybercriminals. Here’s how they can fight back

End ‘shame, isolation and segregation’ of fistula sufferers, urges UN reproductive health chief

JADE Spring Meeting Live Coverage: Entrepreneurial skills in the digital markets

Assault on key Yemeni port would endanger 300,000 children and ‘choke off’ aid for millions more: UNICEF chief

“Is Europe innovative? Oh, Yes we are very innovative!”, Director General of the European Commission Mr Robert-Jan Smits on another Sting Exclusive

Civilian death toll continues to mount in Syria, UN relief chief tells Security Council

Yanukovych attempts a violent and deadly cleansing of Kiev’s center

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Press Freedom Day, Tuna Day, cultural dialogue, #GlobalGoals awards, updates on Syria, Somalia, Mali

‘Agile’, multilateral response vital to combat terrorism – UN chief Guterres

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s