EU's Barroso says Ukraine-Russia gas deal 'within reach'
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
AA PhotoEuropean Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso said Thursday a deal to resolve a bitter Russia-Ukraine supply dispute was "within reach" as he urged the two sides to settle their differences.
Barroso told Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko by telephone Wednesday that "an agreement was within reach" at EU-brokered talks between Kiev and Moscow, a Commission statement said.
Barroso "urged all sides to seize the opportunity and conclude the negotiations in order to secure a continuous, reliable and market based supply of gas to Ukraine," it added.
The latest round of talks in Brussels stalled overnight as Moscow demanded that Brussels first agree with Kiev how it would help Ukraine pay its huge outstanding bill to Moscow.
"The European Commission must reach an agreement with Ukraine over the question of financing," a spokesman for Russian gas giant Gazprom told AFP in Moscow.
"Otherwise, negotiations make no sense," Kuprianov said.
Diplomatic sources in Brussels and Russian reports citing Energy Minister Alexander Novak said the talks would resume later Thursday.
At a previous round earlier this month, EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger negotiated an outline accord whereby Ukraine would pay $3.1 billion by the end of the year to settle its outstanding bills to Russia.
In return, Russia would cut the price for deliveries through to March 2015 by some 20 percent to $385 (302 euros) per 1,000 cubic metres.
That deal, however, quickly fell apart, with cash-strapped Ukraine unable to find the money to pay, apparently prompting its recent request for a new EU loan worth 2.0 billion euros.