KIEV, April 23 (RIA Novosti) – Ukraine will need up to $4 billion in investment for the first stage of an overhaul of its natural gas pipeline network, Ukrainian Energy Minister Yury Prodan said Wednesday.
“In order for the gas transport system to operate normally, though it is working normally now, it needs modernizing, and I think that the first stage [will require] $3-$4 billion, that is what is needed to intensively invest in the modernization,” Prodan said.
On Tuesday, US Vice President Joe Biden promised to help crisis-hit Ukraine reduce its dependence on gas supplies from Russia with a new $50 million aid package to help with urgent economic and political reforms.
The sum, however, would not cover Ukraine’s gas debts to Russia’s Gazprom, which currently stand at $2.2 billion.
Ukraine has been on the verge of economic collapse since it went through a regime change on February 22, which saw the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych and the rise of Western-backed ultra-nationalistic activists in Kiev.
Moscow and several regions in Ukraine have not acknowledged the legitimacy of the new authorities and have condemned their nationalistic policies. Kiev currently owes Moscow some $35.4 billion, which was provided over the last four years as a subsidy via gas discounts.