KIEV, Ukraine, April 2 (UPI) -- Cooperation between Kiev and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development can help modernize a gas transit network, the Ukrainian prime minister said.
The new government of pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is working to restore its regional reputation as an energy transit nation for the European Union. The recession that rocked world markets in 2009 pummeled the Ukrainian economy, however, forcing Kiev to look to international lenders for support.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said working with the EBRD was vital to modernizing the gas transit network in Ukraine, Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.
"Our task is to modernize the (gas transportation) system so that our pipeline becomes the most profitable and efficient for pumping gas to Europe," Azarov said. "It is a serious and important job and cooperation with your bank on this issue is very important to us."
Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine transport about 80 percent of the Russian gas bound for Europe. Kiev is lobbying hard for help with its gas transit network as Russia races ahead with pipeline projects for Europe that avoid Ukrainian territory.
Andriy Kliuyev, the first deputy prime minister of Ukraine, said last week that his country would develop "the most favorable conditions" to transit Russian gas "only through Ukraine."