Oct 21, 2014 3:28 PM

Ukraine, Russia end gas talks without breakthrough

The Associated Press

BRUSSELS (AP) Ukraine and Russia on Tuesday failed to get a decisive breakthrough in their standoff over gas supplies to Kiev and will resume European Union-sponsored talks next week.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukraine counterpart Petro Poroshenko had agreed on a broad thrust of a deal on Friday, but the issues on how, when and how much Ukraine should pay continued to divide the sides.

Kiev asked the EU for an additional loan of 2 billion euro ($2.5 billion) as it struggles to cope with the implications of its energy needs.

"We have made some important progress," said EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger. "We hope they will reach an agreement on a winter package for Ukraine."

Oettinger added a long-term solution could wait until after the crucial cold months.

The EU Commission said that the Ukraine request for the 2 billion euro loan will be "evaluated in consultation with the IMF and Ukrainian authorities." However, it insisted that the EU's executive office "remains very committed to supporting Ukraine in line with earlier commitments."

This year already, the EU has agreed on an aid package of 11 billion euros ($14 billion) to boost the economy of a divided nation as it faced fighting in the east and the breakaway of its southern Crimea region to integrate with Russia.

The Russian energy company Gazprom said Friday's tentative agreement included a promise that Kiev would pay back $3.1 billion by the end of the year. This is where further EU help could be vital.

Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in the summer over unpaid bills, raising the risks that Ukraine would siphon off gas from the pipeline passing through its territory from Russia to Europe.

Europe is concerned that if Ukraine would do that, Russia could cut off all flows through Ukraine, leaving parts of Europe without supplies in the dead of winter, as has happened in the past.


Raf Casert can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rcasert


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