LUXEMBOURG, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - The European Union's Foreign Affairs Council stressed on Monday the urgency of reaching an agreement on Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine for the upcoming winter.
"The Council supports the Commission's efforts in seeking an interim agreement for the resumption of gas supplies by Russia to Ukraine and recalls the urgency for the sides to reach an agreement on the basis of the Protocol, proposed at the latest trilateral meeting," the Council said in a statement.
"Such an agreement, as well as urgent and long-term measures to improve energy efficiency in Ukraine, are critical for safeguarding the security of supply and transit this winter," the Council added.
Ukraine is facing the approaching winter with low natural gas reserves. In June, Russian energy giant Gazprom switched Ukraine to a prepayment system for gas deliveries in light of its gas debt, which is estimated at over $5 billion.
During a ministerial meetingб held in Berlin on September 26, Moscow and the European Commission proposed a so-called winter package, a deal that would seek Ukraine to pay $3.1 billion of its gas debt to Russia by the end of the year in exchange for gas deliveries during winter months at $385 per 1,000 cubic meters.
On October 13, Russia said it was ready to offer Ukraine a more flexible schedule for the repayment of the debt. The schedule saw Kiev paying $1.45 billion in the first installment of $3.1 billion, with the rest of the debt being paid by the year-end.
The same day, Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan said Ukraine was not willing to make any advanced payments for Russian gas supplies, insisting that payments should be made upon delivery.
Following a summit in Milan on October 17, both Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko stated that the sides had made progress on the gas deliveries issue. French President Francois Hollande stated that a gas agreement between Russia and Ukraine was now "truly within reach".