EU Expects Quick Settlement of Russia-Ukraine Gas Dispute

MOSCOW, Russia -- The European Commission said Thursday it was closely monitoring a bitter dispute over gas prices between Ukraine and Russia and believes that a negotiated settlement is near.

Demonstrators in Moscow protest against Ukraine’s refusal to accept new price for natural gas

“The outcome of these talks with Ukraine are important for us and we are following this but we think it can still be solved,” the AFX news agency quoted commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio as saying.

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators were meeting in Moscow to break the deadlock over gas prices as the clock ran down on a Jan. 1 deadline for Ukraine to agree to a steep increase or see supplies cut off — potentially disrupting the flow of gas to Europe.

Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom has announced a more than four-fold increase in gas prices to neighboring Ukraine and says that if Kiev does not agree by Sunday the supply will be shut down.

“It’s true that Gazprom supplies a quarter of Europe’s gas so of course everything linked to these negotiations is important to us,” Altafaj Tardio said.

“We expect that the difficulties that are appearing now can be resolved in the coming hours before the deadline,” he added.

However, the commission was “not envisaging an intervention” to help settle the dispute.

The standoff is being closely followed in Western Europe amid concerns there that any attempt by Ukraine to compensate for a cut-off in its own supplies by using those in transit to Europe could then affect EU gas imports.

Source: MosNews

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