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Kiev says it has clout over South Stream

KIEV, Ukraine, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Kiev is pleased that the South Stream natural gas project isn't the top strategic initiative for the European community, the Ukrainian energy minister said.

Kiev last week joined the European energy community in a signing ceremony at a ministerial conference in Macedonia.

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Ukrainian Energy Minister Yury Boiko said his signature represented Kiev's "political will to align the principles of Ukrainian energy policy" with those in the European Union, the National News Agency of Ukraine reports.

He told the BBC in an interview that the accession means Kiev has influence over the South Stream natural gas project from Russia.

He heaped praise on the European community for backing the Nabucco gas pipeline, saying the rival South Stream wasn't a strategic initiative for Europe.

Europe aims to break the Russian grip on the energy sector with the Nabucco gas pipeline, which would move gas from Central Asian and Middle Eastern suppliers to Europe through Turkey. South Stream, meanwhile, would transfer Russian gas around Ukraine.

Kiev's reputation as a gas transit nation is tarnished in part because of a stormy relationship with Moscow. Russian gas monopoly Gazprom last year cut gas supplies to Ukraine because of contractual disputes. That decision left Europe in the cold for several weeks as around 80 percent of all Russian gas bound for Europe runs through Ukraine.

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