KIEV, Ukraine, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Kiev will work to form a stable energy relationship with Moscow to ensure secure gas transits through Ukraine, presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych said.
Pro-Russian leader and presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, who lost to President Viktor Yushchenko during the Orange Revolution in 2004, said he is ready to form a reliable energy partnership with Russia, the National News Agency of Ukraine reports.
"My point of view has not changed since 2004," he said." I supported the creation of the gas transportation consortium, with Russia as a supplier, Europe as a consumer, and Ukraine as a transiting country."
His rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, struck a more nationalist tone, saying she would seek to maintain control of Ukraine's gas transit system.
European consumers were left in the cold for weeks following a January 2009 gas row between Kiev and Moscow. Around 80 percent of all Russian gas bound for Europe heads through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine.
That row sparked a race to diversify the European energy sector, with Russian pushing for two separate natural gas pipelines, South Stream and Nord Stream, and Europe scrambling to find non-Russian suppliers for its Nabucco project.
Tymoshenko and Yanukovych square off in a runoff presidential contest Sunday.