Russia and Ukraine will step up efforts to create a consortium on modernizing the Ukrainian gas transportation system, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said on Thursday.
"We have instructed the Russian-Ukrainian subcommittee on cooperation to step up work, including on the consortium for modernizing the gas transportation system," Shmatko said.
Ukraine's gas transportation system is one of Europe's largest gas pipeline networks and the main route for Russian natural gas supplies to European consumers.
In the early 2000s, Kiev and Moscow discussed the possibility of creating a gas transport consortium with the involvement of European partners to manage and modernize the Soviet-era network. The project was, however, put on hold when west-leaning President Viktor Yushchenko came to power in Ukraine as a result of the "orange revolution" in 2004.
Russia has consistently tried to obtain a stake in the Ukrainian gas pipeline network to modernize the system and ensure uninterrupted gas supplies to Europe. Ukraine has until now resisted these attempts, saying they would jeopardize its sovereignty.
Russia temporarily halted natural gas transit through Ukraine in early 2009 in response to a gas conflict between Kiev and Moscow. Many European countries were left without heating for almost three weeks, causing the European Union to propose allocating funds to modernize the Ukrainian gas pipeline network without Russia's assistance.
Shmatko said revisions of gas contracts with Ukraine will not lead to corrections in contracts with other countries.
"I do not think our talks on gas with Ukraine should be any reason to begin revising our mutual relations with other governments. We will not respond to such requests," Shmatko said.
Russia agreed on Wednesday to grant Ukraine considerable discounts on the price of natural gas supplies.
MOSOW, April 22 (RIA Novosti)