KIEV, Ukraine, May 2 (UPI) -- The planned South Stream natural gas pipeline meant to avoid Ukrainian territory is a blow to national interests, the Ukrainian energy minister said.
About 80 percent of the Russian natural gas bound for European markets transits Ukraine. Acrimony between the countries, however, exposes vulnerabilities in conventional routes, prompting Moscow to pursue alternative delivery solutions.
South Stream is planned to move more than 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to Europe per year after it passes through the Turkish waters of the Black Sea. Gas flows are expected by 2015.
Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Boiko said he viewed South Stream as a threat to the country's national security, Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.
"The South Stream project is a real threat to our national interests and we will always be against it," he was quoted by the news agency as saying.
Kiev is eager to update its gas transit system in an effort to restore its reputation as a transit nation. It's expected to cost Ukraine about $6.5 million to do so, the minister added.
"The more we modernize our gas transportation system, the more we will be open and show our reliability, the less chances South Stream, which is designed to drain our gas transportation system, will have to be implemented," he said.