EU optimistic over latest Russian, Ukrainian gas spat

Nov. 5, 2013 at 7:27 AM

KIEV, Ukraine, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Neither party to the latest natural gas row between Ukraine and Russia seems interested in revisiting past conflicts, a European commissioner said.

Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller said last week Ukraine has yet to pay its August natural gas bill of $882 million. Gazprom cut natural gas supplies to Ukraine most recently in 2009 because of payment concerns.

European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said he was upbeat about the prospects for a resolution.

"I am sure everyone is interested that the year 2009 [is not repeated] again," he was quoted as saying in a Tuesday report from the National News Agency of Ukraine.

He stressed the onus may be on Russia to resolve the issue because of its reliance on natural gas revenue from members of the European Union.

European countries get about 20 percent of their natural gas needs met by Russia, with most of the gas transported through the Soviet-era pipeline network in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian government said the energy sector was less dependent on Gazprom than it was in previous years. The 2009 gas row sparked a push by the EU to break the Russian grip on the region's energy sector by courting rival suppliers in the Caspian region.

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