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EU to talk gas with Moscow, Kiev

Putin ready to meet Ukraine half way.

By Daniel J. Graeber

BRUSSELS, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- The European Commission said Monday it scheduled another round of talks with its Russian and Ukrainian counterparts to settle a lingering gas issue.

"The next trilateral gas meeting between Commission Vice-President Gunther Oettinger, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan will take place on Tuesday in Brussels," the commission said in a statement.

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Multilateral meetings in Milan last week were aimed at resolving a geopolitical crisis in Ukraine that spilled over into the regional energy sector. Ukraine's political upheaval in November left an already battered economy short on cash and the billions of dollars Kiev owes to Russian energy company Gazprom leaves downstream European consumers at risk.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said progress had been made during the latest round of talks. While gas supplies were ensured for the short-term, the president said the cash situation in Kiev was another story.

"We are aware of the financial condition of the Ukrainian partners," he said Saturday. "We have already agreed to meet them halfway in a sense as far as the payments for the already consumed gas are concerned, and we hope that our European partners, the European commission, will extend a helping hand to Ukraine to deal with the cash gap problem."

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