Russia President: Urges Quick Work Making Pipelines To Bypass Ukraine

SOFIA, Bulgaria -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for the speedy completion of two new gas pipelines that bypass Ukraine, in an interview with Bulgarian national television Friday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

"The new energy routes such as the South Stream and the Nord Stream pipelines have to be speeded up," Medvedev said during an interview from his Meiendorf Castle official residence.

"If we can diversify supplies, Europe will depend less on the whims of the political regime in one country or another," he said according to the BNT channel.

Medvedev reiterated Russia's position that it wasn't responsible for the two- week halt in deliveries of natural gas to Europe in January amid a pricing row with Ukraine.

"Judicial responsibility has to be brought against the party that is really to blame for not respecting its contract," he said, adding that he wanted to see the creation of an "international legal control mechanism."

On Wednesday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urged the World Economic Forum in Davos to set up an international legal framework for energy security, saying it could prove as important as the 1951 European Coal and Steel Community accord, which led to the European Union.

Medvedev also said Friday Russia didn't need to sign its delivery gas contracts via intermediary companies.

"We do not need any intermediaries if they...hike up the price of gas. We want transparent and direct contracts," he added.

Medvedev is expected to discuss energy issues with his Bulgarian counterpart Georgy Parvanov during the latter's visit to Moscow on Wednesday.

The two men will discuss progress on the South Stream pipeline project to channel Russian gas to Europe under the Black Sea and the Burgas-Alexandrupolis oil pipeline project to bring Russian oil from the Black Sea to the Greek port of Alexandrupolis on the Aegean.

Nord Stream is a gas pipeline to link Russia and the European Union via the Baltic Sea.

Source: AFP