NEW YORK, JUNE 17 (RIA Novosti) – The Ukraine crisis and subsequent fears over Russian gas exports disruptions highlight the EU need for a better energy strategy, a US trade diplomat told RIA Novosti in an interview.
“TTIP isn’t the answer to Ukraine itself, but I think what happened in Ukraine and with Russia has underscored for the Europeans the importance of putting in place a comprehensive energy policy and diversifying their sources of energy security. Underlying it is a very strong strategic rationale, in part affected by the energy security situation in Europe,” US trade envoy Michael Froman told RIA Novosti at an event in New York, commenting on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is currently being negotiated between the EU and the US.
The uninterrupted flow of Russian gas to Europe has recently been put into question by the political crisis in Ukraine and its ballooning gas debt to Russia. Kiev's gas debt to Russia has been building up since 2013 as the country found itself amid deep political crisis and continues to accumulate at a rate of $1 billion per month.
Turning a blind eye on its contract obligations, Ukraine has been driving a hard bargain in its dispute with Russia, pressing for a price of $268.5 per 1,000 cubic meters, although the Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan said earlier it was ready for a moderate compromise at $326.
On Monday, Russian gas giant Gazprom switched to advance payment scheme for gas deliveries because of Ukraine’s debt and blackmail during the negotiations. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yatsenyuk had earlier instructed the government and Naftogaz to prepare for cuts of Russian gas deliveries.