Russia awaits Ukraine response to talks offer: Gazprom

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Negotiations over disputed gas contracts cannot resume because there has been no relevant response from the Ukrainian side, Gazprom’s export head Alexander Medvedev said in Prague on Saturday.

Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on January 1, and the impact has been felt in some European Union members like Hungary and Romania.

Talks between the two sides broke off on December 31, and Ukraine’s Naftogaz called on Gazprom on Saturday to return to the negotiating table.

“We are doing it, regularly inviting them (Ukraine) to come, but they are not coming,” Medvedev said before meeting government officials of the Czech Republic, current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency.

“It is an absolutely unacceptable position … We do not have anybody to speak with.”

He said Gazprom, the Russian gas export monopoly, was ready to fulfil its commitments to the European Union, and urged Ukraine to fulfil its commitments as a transit country.

Russia has accused Ukraine of stealing gas in transit to Europe, but Ukraine has countered that Gazprom itself is reducing supplies to Europe and using “energy blackmail.”

“The amount of gas which is taken by Naftogaz for their own needs without any essentials, any contract, was already exceeding 35 million cubic metres of gas per day, and growing,” Medvedev said.

He said Gazprom was taking all the necessary steps to compensate for the gas being taken out by Naftogaz, and that some customers especially in the Balkan region were starting to feel the effects of the reduced flow.

“In spite of that, all the gas under the contracts with them was delivered by Gazprom,” he added.

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