President of Ukraine wants to raise Russian gas transit issue at Paris summit
Paris. President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky admitted that he could discuss long-term transit of Russian gas through the Ukrainian gas transmission system with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Normandy Four summit in Paris on December 9, he said in an interview with Le Monde published on Monday.
"Gas transit annually brings us $2.5-3 bln," Zelensky said. "Despite the statements of our partners, this is not only an economic, but also a political issue. We hope to sign a gas transit agreement with Russia for 10 years. I want to separate this topic from Donbass, but the question can be raised during the summit in Paris," he stated.
The President of Ukraine added that in this regard he was concerned about the ongoing construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. "Regarding this issue, I do not have power over European leaders. I can only count on the help of the United States, which support us," Zelensky pointed out.
The Normandy Four summit on resolving the Ukrainian crisis will be held on December 9 in Paris, informs TASS. Presidents of Russia, Ukraine, and France, as well as Chancellor of Germany will attend it. The format of the bilateral meeting between Putin and Zelensky is still being worked out.
The contract for the supply and transit of gas through Ukraine between Gazprom and Naftogaz ends on December 31, 2019. Russia, Ukraine, and the European Commission continue to hold consultations on the transit of Russian gas to the EU through Ukrainian territory after 2020, although the dialogue is complicated by litigations between Gazprom and Naftogaz.
Moscow offers a "package solution" that includes a settlement agreement on litigation and direct gas purchases at reduced rates. As a fallback, Russia is ready to extend the current transit agreement for 2020.
However, Ukraine considers rejection of litigation and signing of a short-term contract unacceptable. At the same time, in November, Executive Director of Naftogaz Yury Vitrenko announced that Ukraine would pump transit gas from Russia to its underground storage facilities if it would enter the country without an appropriate contract starting January 1, 2020.