Yanukovych Traveling To Moscow On Monday

KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yanukovych will travel to Moscow on Monday for a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss a range of issues, including cooperation in the natural gas sector.

Viktor Yanukovych

Yanukovych and Putin will “discuss a wide range of urgent issues of bilateral agenda at the meeting,” Yanukovych’s press service said, including cooperation in missile, space, aviation and nuclear power sectors.

Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko said the talks over natural gas prices and supply volumes will most likely be on agenda too.

“The subject of the talks will be quite wide,” Hryshchenko told reporters on Friday.

“Probably, they will raise the issue of the natural gas.”

The visit comes days after Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said the high price of Russian gas has been “killing” Ukraine.

He also said that Kiev will stay away from portraying Moscow as an enemy.

The Kremlin, in a statement over the weekend, said Yanukovych and Putin will discuss “in detail” an opportunity of expanding cooperation in the gas sector.

The talks will most likely touch upon earlier agreement between Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrayiny on joint exploration and development of the Pallasa natural gas field on the Black Sea shelf, the Kremlin said.

“Such important issues as progress on delimitation of border” between Ukraine and Russia in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait is also supposed to be discussed, the Kremlin said, as well as legal framework for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet stationing in Ukraine, including the use of navigational equipment.

Ukraine for the past 2.5 years has been unsuccessfully seeking to re-negotiate a 10-year gas agreement signed in January 2009 in order to lower gas prices to $230-250 per 1,000 cubic meters, from $431/1,000 cu m paid currently.

Russia has persistently refused to lower the gas prices and suggested that Ukraine should join a Moscow-led trade bloc, known as the Customs Union, in order to qualify for lower gas prices.

This, however, would undermine Ukraine’s aspirations to increase cooperation with the European Union, so Kiev has decided to cut dramatically natural gas imports from Russia instead.

Ukraine will reduce Russian gas imports to 24.5 billion cubic meters in 2013, from expected 27 billion cu m in 2012 and from 40 billion cu m in 2011, according to Energy and Coal Industry Minister Yuriy Boyko.

The Yanukovych-Putin meeting is due a week before October 28 general elections in Ukraine, and some analysts said by traveling to Moscow Yanukovych has been merely trying win support of Russian-speaking voters in eastern parts of Ukraine. 

Source: Ukrainian Journal