MOSCOW, April 17 (RIA Novosti) – The European Union has agreed with Russia that consultations should be held to ensure the uninterrupted flow of natural gas to Europe amid the crisis in Ukraine, according to an open letter by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso published on Thursday.
Last week, in a letter to 18 European leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced concerns about Ukraine’s debt crisis that, he said, could lead to disruptions of gas supplies, which transit Ukraine on their way from Russia to Europe.
"The European Union agrees on your proposal for consultations with the Russian Federation and Ukraine with regard to security of gas supply and transit," said the EU message, sent in response to Putin's letter.
"However, we do not share your assessment of trade relations between Ukraine and the European Union that, to a large extent, the crisis in Ukraine's economy has been precipitated by the unbalanced trade with the European Union member states," Barroso's letter said.
Putin also called last week for urgent consultations at the ministerial level in order to work out collaborative actions to stabilize Ukraine’s crisis-hit economy.
Barroso responded that the IMF-led program of assistance will be vital in stabilizing Ukraine's economy.
“The success of an IMF-led program will depend both on Ukraine's commitment to international obligations and reform efforts, and on cooperation from all their international partners,” he said.
European leaders think that Russian gas giant Gazprom’s contracts with Ukraine should be upheld, Barroso said.
“As far as the gas supplies to Europe are concerned, I would like to recall that supply contracts are between European companies and Gazprom. It therefore continues to be Gazprom's responsibility to ensure the deliveries of the required volumes as agreed in the supply contracts,” the European Commission president said.
“The European Union has repeatedly stated that we expect commercial operators on all sides to continue respecting their contractual obligations and commitments,” the letter said.