BRUSSELS, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Brussels should play a greater role in the energy sector to avert a repeat of the January gas row between Russia and Ukraine, Ukraine's energy minister said.
Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko spoke with EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, saying the bloc needs to use its influence in the region to ensure the energy sector is secure, The Parliament Magazine reports on its Web site.
"I made it clear to the commissioner that the EU has an important role to play here, and the impression I got was that he is keen to do all he can to help prevent further disruption to supplies," he said.
A dispute over debt and contracts with Russian energy monopoly Gazprom prompted Russia to disrupt gas supplies in Ukraine. Around 80 percent of all Russian natural gas bound for Europe travels through Ukraine, making the disruption severe.
Boyko, the former chief of Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz, said his country remains a reliable energy partner in the region despite the row.
Naftogaz last week, however, warned a new gas crisis could develop if regional utilities did not meet their debt obligations. The terms of the new Ukrainian contract with Naftogaz enacts harsh penalties if the company misses any of its payments.