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Ukraine worried about gas shortages

Issue must be addressed for the sake of the economy, official says.

By
Daniel J. Graeber

KIEV, Ukraine, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Ukraine needs to secure a reliable natural gas partner as shortages are expected during the upcoming winter, a Cabinet official said.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights this week said energy security issues in Ukraine may take on a humanitarian tone as residents there fear there could be a natural gas shortage this winter.

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Cabinet Minist Ostap Semerak told Ukrainian news agency Glavkom some of those fears may come to fruition.

"We will have a gas shortage ... for the upcoming winter," he said in an interview published Thursday. "We must find this gas in order to survive the winter [and] to ensure the effective work of the economy."

The World Bank this week said lingering tensions in Ukraine were taking their toll on the nation's economy, though many of the problems stem from older structural issues.

Semerak said the Ukrainian government since political upheaval in November had taken the steps necessary to address some of the chronic economic maladies.

European, Russian and Ukrainian are still mulling the date for another round of talks aimed at resolving the energy issue. Ukraine under a proposal tabled last month would settle its outstanding debt to Russian energy company Gazprom in exchange for a discount on price and assurances of adequate winter supplies.

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