Ukraine and Russia are close to a compromise on natural gas supplies and will soon finalize a package of documents, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on Thursday.
“This will be a big package of documents, defining the entire range of our relations,” Azarov told the Moscow-based Ekho Moskvy radio station.
He added that the possible solution to the gas dispute between the two countries rules out concessions on the Russian side, but envisions compromise solutions.
“We are at last near to compromises advantageous for our countries. I would not like to detail the peculiarities of this process now. This compromise is very important for us, and when the documents are signed, I will make public all the details,” the premier said.
Ukraine is seeking to alter the terms of the 2009 gas deal it signed with Russia. The deal ties the price of gas to oil prices, which have risen steeply since the agreement was reached. This had caused Ukraine's energy bill to balloon. Kiev is insisting on a reduction in both the price and the volume of imports.
Azarov also said his country was not linking any solution to the gas dispute to Ukraine’s membership of Moscow-led Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
In August, Medvedev said Ukraine would receive a discount for gas if it joined the Customs Union or made an attractive offer to sell its gas pipeline system.
However, Ukraine has balked at becoming a full member of the Customs Union, which would prevent it from signing a free trade agreement with the EU. It has offered to cooperate in a special 3-plus-1 format, but Russia has rejected the idea.
Azarov said the current gas contract is the most unprofitable in Ukraine’s entire history. “We pay an extra billion [of dollars] a month for gas. These are huge losses for the budget. I know of no other such loss-making and tough contract in our history,” he lamented.
Yulia Tymoshenko, who signed the current gas contract with Russia in 2009, was on October 11 sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of office over the deal. Her lawyers appealed the verdict. Western states said the trial of the now leading opposition figure was “politically motivated."