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Russia will review disputed gas deal, Ukraine says

A previous gas price row between Kiev and Moscow disrupted Russian energy giant Gazprom’s European supplies, and the EU is seeking assurances from Kiev that this will not happen again.

Bela Szandelszky/Associated Press/Bela Szandelszky/Associated Press

Russia has agreed to review its gas contract with Ukraine, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on Monday, after weekend talks between the countries' presidents and senior energy officials.

"We have finally managed to reach an agreement with Russia on reviewing the contract," Mr. Azarov said at a meeting with a delegation of the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly.

The former Soviet republic has been pressing Russia for months to revise a 2009 gas deal, agreed under the previous Ukrainian leadership, which President Viktor Yanukovich's government says saddled the country with an exorbitant price for supplies of Russian gas.

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Ukraine is set to pay about $400 (U.S.) per 1,000 cubic metres of imported Russian gas in the fourth quarter of this year.

Mr. Azarov did not say how exactly and when the deal, originally signed for 10 years, would be reviewed.

Mr. Azarov said Russia had also agreed to establish a consortium with Ukraine and the European Union that would upgrade and manage Ukraine's gas pipeline network, the main route by which Russian gas flows to Europe.

The previous gas price row between Kiev and Moscow disrupted Russian energy giant Gazprom's European supplies, and the EU is seeking assurances from Kiev that this will not happen again.

Mr. Yanukovich flew to Moscow on Sept. 24 to discuss gas issues with Russian leaders Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin. Separately, top energy officials of the two countries held talks on Sept. 25.

Both sides have since reported progress in the talks but gave no details. Gazprom said earlier on Monday that negotiations would continue this week.

Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov declined to comment on Mr. Azarov's statement when contacted by Reuters.

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Under the 2009 deal, Ukraine must import no less than 33 billion cubic metres of gas from Russia at a price linked to world oil and oil product prices. Kiev insists on reducing both the price and the volume of imports.

Up to now, Moscow has refused to renegotiate the deal, saying this was possible only if Ukraine joined a Russia-led customs union. Ukraine says it has no interest in doing this since it is not compatible with its goal of integration with the European Union.

The gas deal between the Ukrainian energy firm Naftogaz and Gazprom is the basis of a trial of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. She is accused of having exceeded her authority by forcing the agreement through, against the national interest.

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