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Kiev fine without Gazprom, minister says

Feb. 24, 2012 at 5:56 AM   |   Comments

KIEV, Ukraine, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Ukraine won't have any problems if Russian natural gas company Gazprom decides to use outside transit networks, the Ukrainian prime minister said.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said this week that Ukraine would have "zero role" in Russian natural gas exports to Europe once alternative pipelines are operational.

Russia sends about 80 percent of its natural gas to Europe through the Soviet-era transit network in Ukraine. Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Gazprom was welcome to use the network, though the country would get by without it, Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.

"Ukraine will find a way out of this situation," said Azarov. "Don't worry about that."

The first line of Russia's dual Nord Stream natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea went into service last year. Gazprom said construction on its counterpart, South Stream, would begin in December. Both options are part of an effort to send Russian gas to European countries without using the Ukrainian gas transit system.

Analysis from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace concludes that while Russia is securing alternative routes, it might be running low on natural gas supplies. Gazprom had struggled to keep pace with European demand this winter. Ukraine, meanwhile, has only focused on short-term solutions to its own address its own energy issues, the analysis said.

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