EU mulls gas talks with Kiev, Moscow

Schedule depends on when it's convenient for all sides, Oettinger says.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Sept. 3, 2014 at 8:31 AM
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BRUSSELS, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Natural gas talks between the European Union, Russia and Ukraine may be possible mid-September if the right conditions are in place, Europe's energy boss said.

Europe relies on Russia for about a quarter of its gas needs, though most of that supply runs through the Soviet-era pipeline network in Ukraine. Skirmishes in eastern Ukraine, coupled with ongoing debt disputes between Kiev and Moscow, puts European energy security at risk.

European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said he'd met Thursday in Brussels to assess energy needs for the upcoming winter and Monday with Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan.

"It is after this meeting that we will agree on a date and location for the next trilateral gas talks convenient for all three sides," he said Tuesday. "This could take place mid-September."

During peace talks last week in Belarus, Russian President Vladimir Putin said there were few options for Ukraine itself because of pending debt issues tied up in an international court of arbitration.

Alexander Novak, Russia's energy minister, said Moscow was committed to meeting its contractual obligations to Europe.

Europe, meanwhile, has sought to secure alternate sources of natural gas, notably from Azerbaijan.

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