KIEV, April 23 (RIA Novosti) - Kiev is not discussing the creation of a gas transit consortium with Russia because the new leadership has not received any offers, Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan said Wednesday.
Ukraine has suggested numerous times to create a consortium to run its gas transport system in a three-party format with Europe and Russia. However, Russian gas giant Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller said in December that this is not an item for discussion.
“Ukraine’s new leadership is not discussing the issue of creating a gas transit consortium with Russia because it hasn’t received any offers from the Russian side,” Prodan said.
Kiev currently owes Gazprom $2.2 billion, but by the end of this year the figure may raise up to $5 billion. Amid the current political standoff between Ukraine and Russia, the energy giant has cancelled two major gas discounts for Ukraine, bringing the price to $485 per thousand cubic meters starting April 1.
Over the past five years, Russia has supplied Ukraine with nearly 150 billion cubic meters of gas. While importing the Russian gas, Ukraine has systematically delayed payments. Russian President Vladimir Putin stated earlier this month that Ukraine owes Russia $17 billion in gas discounts and another $18.4 billion has been incurred as a minimal take-or-pay fine.
Putin noted that Russia has subsidized the Ukrainian economy by $35.4 billion by providing discounts on natural gas, adding that Moscow will wait for one more month before switching to requiring advance payments.
The EU 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.