Putin praises dialogue with Ukraine


ASTANA, January 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Wednesday the results of the talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.

"I hope that the talks will give a new boost to Russian-Ukrainian cooperation," Putin told a news conference in Astana, where the two leaders attended the inauguration of Kazakh president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. "Enriched with the new experience of resolving controversial issues, our relations have gained a new potential for future development."

"We are happy to state that in the long history of relations with Ukraine, we now have people in Kiev who do what they say," Putin said.

"It cannot but please us that we started the new year by resolving serious problems in the energy sphere and reaching positive agreements," the Russian president said. "I am glad that we have reached a compromise that will not only serve the interests of our relations in the energy sphere, but will also promote all aspects of our cooperation."

According to Putin, the new approaches to cooperation between Russia and Ukraine will strengthen energy security in Europe and will help creating a common economic space on the continent.

Putin also said recent deal on prices for natural gas between the two countries was fair. He said that Russia had met Ukraine halfway when it agreed to pay for the transit of its natural gas at market prices.

Under the new gas deal, Gazprom will sell gas to Swiss-registered trader RosUkrEnergo, for $230 per 1,000 cubic meters. Ukraine will then buy gas from RosUkrEnergo for $95 per 1,000 cu m.

"Secondly, Ukraine buys two-thirds of [its] natural gas in Central Asia, and the prices on this market are much lower, so the average price on the Ukrainian market is entirely reasonable," Putin said.

"Thirdly, we agreed with Ukrainian partners to conduct joint work on the markets of third countries, including the re-export of natural gas," the president said.

He also said the transition to the European gas price formula was more important than agreeing on a new price on gas supplies because while today it was $230 per 1,000 cu m, tomorrow it could rise or drop depending on the global market trends.

"And we will certainly agree [to lower the price], if it goes down," Putin said.

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