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Ukraine's gas sector coping, EU says

Europe reviewing results of trilateral meetings with Russia and Ukraine.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   July 17, 2014 at 8:56 AM
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BRUSSELS, July 17 (UPI) -- Some of the proposals offered to break the Russian grip on the Ukrainian energy sector are working, a top European official said Thursday in Brussels.

Outgoing European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso updated leaders in Brussels on the status of trilateral negotiations between the European Union, Russia and Ukraine.

Simmering conflict in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, grew out of its late 2013 decision to look beyond the Russian sphere of influence. Ukraine earlier this year signed an association agreement with the European Union.

Beyond strategic areas, Barroso said energy supply to Ukraine is an area of concern. Russia suspended gas deliveries to Ukraine because of debt woes and similar rows in 2006 and 2009 left downstream European consumers in the cold.

At this stage, the president said, Ukraine is meeting its energy needs with domestic sources and alternative suppliers. Some of its neighbors have reversed gas flows toward Ukraine as well.

"We have made some proposals and now they are working," he said.

Europe gets about a quarter of its gas needs met by Russia, though most of that runs through Ukraine. Barroso said the results of a stress test examining the resiliency of Europe's energy systems to handle a severe disruption will be ready by October.

Trilateral meetings are scheduled for September.

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