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EU wants interim solution to gas crisis

Ukraine has to address debt, Oettinger says.

By Daniel J. Graeber

MOSCOW, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said Friday there needs to be an interim solution to the natural gas row between Russian and Ukraine.

Russian energy company Gazprom this year cut gas supplies to Ukraine, citing mounting debt. Ukraine, for its part, has complained about the terms of its contract and is waiting for a ruling from international arbiters.

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Oettinger met in Moscow with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak to discuss finding an interim price mechanism that's fair, ensuring all transit obligations are met and negotiating a repayment plan for unpaid gas debt.

"Ukraine has to pay an account for the gas to be delivered in the months to come," he said in a statement.

Europe gets about a quarter of its gas needs met by Russia, though most of that runs through the Soviet-era transit network in Ukraine. Ongoing crises in Ukraine have put European energy security at risk.

"Our main goal is to secure gas supply to the European Union and its citizens, but also to the citizens in Russia, Ukraine, the Western Balkans, including accession countries and Moldova," Oettinger said.

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Novak said Wednesday there was no threat to European energy security.

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