Azarov says Ukraine and Russia agree to settle natural gas dispute

Dec. 16, 2013 at 8:17 AM

KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said his country and Russia agreed to work to settle a longstanding natural gas price dispute.

"The sides have come to an agreement that it's time to settle the [gas price] issue," he was quoted as saying by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

Russian energy company Gazprom cut gas supplies to Ukraine in 2009 because of contractual disputes. A deal resolving the issue left Ukraine paying some of the highest regional prices for natural gas.

"We didn't ask [Russia] for discounts, we discussed only European-level [gas] prices," the prime minister said.

Protests erupted in Ukraine last month after the government decided to suspend efforts to sign free-trade and association agreements with the European Union. The Ukrainian government said the decision was made to protect its economic ties to Russia.

The 2009 row prompted European leaders and Gazprom to pursue alternative gas transit options. Europe gets about 20 percent of its gas needs met by Gazprom though the majority of those supplies run through a Soviet-era gas transmission network in Ukraine.

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