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Russia and the European Union (EU) have agreed to hold the next EU-Russia-Ukraine trilateral gas talks this month, Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission Vice President in charge of the Energy Union, said on Friday.
“The precise date to be announced soon, after consulting the Ukrainian side,” Sefcovic said in a tweet today.
Ukraine is ready to take part in the trilateral gas talks in September, its energy ministry said earlier this week.
The current ten-year gas transit agreement between Russia and Ukraine expires at the end of this year. Russia has been building pipelines to Europe and Turkey that bypass Ukraine—TurkStream and Nord Stream 2. Ukraine, for its part, is a key transit country for Russian gas westwards to Europe and relies on the gas transit fees.
The talks between Ukraine and Gazprom on the gas transit to Europe have been complicated by the tense relationship between Ukraine and Russia. As the deadline to striking a new transit deal approaches, Ukraine has been filling up gas storage to higher than usual levels in case supplies from Russia were interrupted.
The new deal needs to be negotiated by next January when the current contract expires. Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said talks are in the process of being scheduled for September and would involve Ukraine, Russia, and representatives of the European Union, which gets more than a third of its gas supply from Russia, most of it via Ukraine.
Russia has denied that it will cut off Ukraine from its gas transportation system—which would cause serious losses of transit fee revenues—but Kiev has insisted Moscow wants to do just that by expanding the Nord Stream pipeline.
In July, reports emerged that Russia may be looking to sign a short-term deal for gas transit through Ukraine. This would buy Russia some time until it completes the gas pipelines bypassing Ukrainian territory, four sources familiar with Russia’s thinking told Reuters.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.