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G8 ministers discuss Russia-Ukraine gas relations with Putin


MOSCOW, February 11 (RIA Novosti) - The G8 finance ministers discussed the natural gas situation in Russian-Ukrainian relations with President Vladimir Putin, the French minister said Saturday.

Thierry Breton said the topic had been raised on the Russian leader's initiative. Breton said Putin had explained Russia's position on the issue and said he was satisfied with the issue's resolution both from the standpoint of European consumers and Russia.

Breton said France had proposed resolving such problems in the framework of the Energy Charter, which Russia has signed but has not ratified yet.

Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said the conclusion of a new contract with Ukraine had made natural gas deliveries to Europe independent of its supplies to Ukraine.

Earlier, he said, the price of transit to Europe depended on the volume of supplies to Ukraine, and thus supplies to Ukraine conditioned supplies to Europe.

"Today this contract has been divided into two contracts, and supplies to Europe take place in line with one formula and do not depend on the volume of supplies to Ukraine," the minister said at a news conference after the G8 finance ministers' meeting in Moscow.

Kudrin said the ministers had asked him to clarify the situation, as not everyone in Europe knew that Russia was not to blame for shortfalls in gas deliveries.

The Russian minister also said that in its relations with Ukraine Russia had switched to the price formula used in relations with European consumers, and now the country no longer influenced the gas price for Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine were involved in a bitter dispute over natural gas prices at the end of last year, which led to Gazprom turning off supplies to the neighboring country on January 1 after Ukraine failed to agree to pay market prices. The spat was officially settled on January 4, but Russia has since said Ukraine has continued to siphon Europe-bound gas. Gazprom put the figure at 550 cu m in January alone.

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