Nord Stream challenges Yanukovych

Jan. 21, 2010 at 11:15 AM
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ZUG, Switzerland, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- The Nord Stream gas pipeline consortium has no contacts with anyone in Ukraine regarding possible involvement in the project, managers said.

Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian leader of the pro-Russia Party of Regions, said Ukraine should join the consortium for the Nord Stream gas pipeline in order to allay European concerns over energy security.

Yanukovych faces Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in a Feb. 7 runoff election for president.

Moscow aims to diversify its energy transit options with Nord Stream. Russia's gas customers in Europe were left in the cold for weeks following a decision by Russian energy giant Gazprom to cut gas supplies to Ukraine following a 2009 row over debts. That disruption exposed vulnerabilities in the European energy sector as 80 percent of all Russian gas for Europe travels through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine.

Sebastian Sass, Nord Stream's envoy to Europe, told news magazine New Europe that he first learned of the Ukrainian interest through the media.

"If it is a question about whether or not a new shareholder would enter the consortium, it's something our current shareholders would have to negotiate, not Nord Stream itself," he said. "But at the moment there is nothing ongoing we haven't been contacted and anything else would be just speculation."

Tymoshenko, meanwhile, said she would keep gas transit systems under Kiev's control if elected president.

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