Ukraine, Russia PMs Resolve Gas Dispute: Tymoshenko

SOPOT, Poland -- Russia and Ukraine have resolved a long standing dispute over natural gas supplies, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said on Tuesday after meeting her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko meet for talks in Gdansk September 1, 2009. Russia and Ukraine have resolved a long standing dispute over natural gas supplies.

Rows over gas supplies have dominated Russia's relations with Ukraine over recent years, leading last winter to the longest interruption to European Union supplies for decades.

"We have removed all of the gas problems," Tymoshenko said after talks in Sopot, a resort on the Baltic coast in northern Poland.

"We feel that all the crisis-like occurrences in this sphere have gone."

Russia supplies a quarter of the European Union's gas and most of this goes through pipelines across Ukraine. The clashes over Ukraine's imports of Russian gas have repeatedly led to disruption of transit flows to Europe.

The relationship between former Kremlin chief Putin and Tymoshenko, the most popular Ukrainian politician now holding office, is also being closely watched ahead of Ukraine's January 17 presidential election.

"Our meeting was very important for Ukraine," Tymoshenko said with a smile. "Our next meeting will take place in October and we plan it in Ukraine. I invite you and your team."

Tymoshenko's warmer ties with Russia over recent months have provoked speculation that Moscow may be backing her in the election to gain influence over the former Soviet republic.

"We have again gone over the volumes of Russian gas consumed by Ukraine with Vladimir Vladimirovich (Putin) and the Russian prime minister's position is very important... that Ukraine will pay for all the gas it consumes."

The statement, although not confirmed by Putin, means Russia has agreed to scrap an earlier clause under which Ukraine would be fined if it consumed less gas than agreed in January, when the two sides settled their dispute over volumes and gas prices.

Kiev has long argued that it needs less gas because of a steep economic downturn.

Putin said he was glad to see Tymoshenko again and added that they talked about energy and aviation.

"We remain the biggest partners in the sphere of the economy and we always have something to speak about," said Putin.

"Traditionally, attention is focused on energy but besides this, there are other areas of our cooperation," Putin said.

Source: Washington Post