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Gazprom committed to Ukraine

Russian gas company notes debt still above the $2 billion mark.

By Daniel J. Graeber

MOSCOW, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom remains committed to its contractual obligations in Ukraine, company chairman Alexei Miller said.

Most of the Russian natural gas bound for the European market runs through Soviet-era transit networks in Ukraine. Ongoing contractual rows between Kiev and Gazprom, and simmering conflict in eastern Ukraine, means that conventional route, as well as Ukrainian gas supplies, is at risk.

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The Russian company said it was operating under the terms of historic documents embraced by the pre-conflict government in Ukraine, which extends through 2019. A so-called winter package gives Ukraine a discount on gas prices, though that deal expires March 31.

Miller said the company remained committed to gas supplies to Ukraine and gas transits to Europe.

"Gazprom has cooperated and will go on cooperating with Ukraine in accordance with the existing contracts for gas supply and transit," he said in a Wednesday statement.

Miller earlier this week said Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz still has about $2.2 billion in unsettled debt and penalties.

Russian officials have put an emphasis on building an energy foundation in the Asian economy. Gazprom last year signed a 30-year sales agreement with China that calls for 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year through the so-called Power of Siberia pipeline.

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Both Russian and European officials, meanwhile, have put effort behind transit networks that would avoid Ukrainian territory. The Kremlin last year gave up on its South Stream pipeline for Europe, refiguring the project as a pipeline network dubbed Turkish Stream.

The European Parliament, for its part, called for better cooperation with Ukraine and other regional partners with the aim of "developing infrastructure and interconnectivity between the EU and its European neighbors independently from Russian gas geopolitics."

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