MOSCOW, August 11 (RIA Novosti) – The next Russia-EU-Ukraine ministerial meeting on gas may take place in September, a source close to the European Union’s leadership told RIA Novosti on Monday.
“A meeting on energy issues is being prepared, in particular on gas. I hope that the trilateral ministerial format will resume in September,” the source said on the condition of anonymity.
The official said that European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso planned to hold telephone talks with the presidents of Russia and Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko, later in the day.
Earlier on August 7, Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolev said he was ready to consider using an intermediary to resolve the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute, but warned that involving a third party could complicate the issue.
The Commission had initially hoped to hold a trilateral meeting among the European Union, Russia and Ukraine before August. Such talks took place from April until mid-June, but did not yield any significant results. Kiev insisted on a dramatic reduction in the price it paid for Russian gas, refusing to clear its existing debt, which, by that time, had reached $4.5 billion. Russia suggested a price reduction, but Ukraine did not agree to the conditions of the offer.
Later, Russia stated it was ready to resume the discussion only once Ukraine had paid off its debt. Gazprom switched to a prepayment system for gas deliveries to Ukraine on June 16. The most recent estimate puts Ukraine’s debt at $5.3 billion. The Commission and Gazprom anticipate problems in winter, when Kiev is expected to run out of its own gas reserves.