Today’s meeting in Berlin between the Russian and Ukrainian energy ministers, brokered by EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger, comes more than three months after Moscow cut off gas supplies to Kiev.
The dispute, part of a wider conflict over Ukraine’s relations with Russia and the West, involves the price of Russian gas supplies and Kiev’s historic gas debts.
A sense of urgency is beginning to mount. Much of the Russian gas supplied to EU countries passes through pipelines that cross Ukraine.
“European and Ukrainian energy and gas supplies are very closely connected with each other,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said this week. “Winter is nearing, so time is pressing.”
Russia shut off supplies to Ukraine this summer but still allows gas to transit through its pipeline network to customers in the rest of Europe. Poland, Hungary and some other European countries have been selling some of their gas to Ukraine via so-called “reverse flow” shipments, which Moscow dislikes.
Recently, some of these countries have had trouble supplying Ukraine with gas as they build their own reserves ahead of the winter and amid reports of tighter controls by Russia. Poland this month halted deliveries for a week, citing inadequate supplies from Russia.