KIEV, Ukraine, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- The Ukrainian Energy Ministry is called on to prepare for talks with its Russian counterpart, the Ukrainian prime minister announced.
Russian energy company Gazprom last winter cut natural gas supplies to Ukraine in response to debt and contract disputes. That left European consumers in the cold for weeks as 80 percent of their gas from Russia runs through Ukraine's gas transit system.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Kiev is ready "in principle" to prepare for energy negotiations with Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko.
"Obviously, to achieve success, to work predictably, we must assess together the needs and perspectives of the European market and also jointly develop credible assurances that transit risks do not exist and will not exist," he was quoted by the National News Agency of Ukraine as saying.
Ukraine earlier this year secured a discount for natural gas from Russian in exchange for an extended lease for the Russian Black Sea fleet in Crimea.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, meanwhile, completed its first phase of assessments on Ukraine's gas transit system under the terms of a $3.5 million grant.
Formal talks between Kiev and Moscow are scheduled for Oct. 27.