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    Tymoshenko: Ukraine will not tap Russian gas

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    KIEV, July 11 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said Naftogaz, the country's national oil and gas company, had not and would not tap natural gas in levels exceeding those stipulated in its contract with Russia. Timoshenko was responding to Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement at the recent G8 summit in Scotland. Putin said Russia was prepared for cooperation with Ukraine if it didn't "make off with [Russian] gas."

    "As to certain statements by the Russian president, I can assure you that Naftogaz is not tapping and will not tap natural gas outside the levels stipulated in the contract," Tymoshenko said at a news conference Monday. "The accounts have been maintained very accurately, and Ukraine's behavior has been extremely mindful ... Naftogaz and Ukraine have not deserved such assessments in public."

    She said Ukraine would not take a single extra cubic meter of gas that it was not entitled to take.

    "I do not want Ukraine as a state to be humiliated, and I do not want it to hear statements that do not reflect reality," Tymoshenko said.

    The unauthorized tapping of Russian gas transited to Europe via Ukraine under inter-government treaties several years ago forced Russia to consider building a gas mainline bypassing Ukraine.

    Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma admitted tapping in 2000 and pledged to end it. Kuchma tasked then-Prime Minister and current President Viktor Yushchenko, and other officials, including Yulia Tymoshenko, then-deputy prime minister who oversaw the fuel and energy sector in Yushchenko's cabinet, with enforcing his order.

    In June 2005, Gazprom, Russia's natural gas giant, reported the loss of nearly eight billion cubic meters of gas that had been stored in underground facilities in Ukraine.

    Between the autumn and winter of 2004, Ukraine did not respond to any of Russia's 40 requests to provide stored gas for exports to the West.

    Naftogaz said the gas had been stored in its underground facilities, while Gazprom made a unilateral decision to set off the missing gas against the transit fees Russia pays to Ukraine.

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