Russia, Ukraine in EU-brokered talks on gas as Moscow warns Brussels on re-exporting gas

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Russia and Ukraine are holding European Union-brokered talks on their long-running gas dispute Sept. 26 as pressure mounts for a solution to head off a winter supply crisis in Ukraine and beyond.

The meeting in Berlin between the Russian and Ukrainian energy ministers comes more than three months after Moscow cut off gas supplies to Kiev.

The dispute is part of a wider conflict over whether Ukraine aligns itself with Russia or the West. It involves the price of Russian gas supplies and Ukraine’s debt over previous deliveries. Much of the Russian gas supplied to EU countries passes through pipelines that cross Ukraine.

The talks come as Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak warned that Europe is contractually not allowed to re-export gas to Ukraine and could see its supplies cut if it did so.

In an interview with the business daily Handelsblatt published ahead of the Sept. 26 talks in Berlin, Novak insisted that Moscow would meet all its contractual commitments. “But the agreed contracts do not foresee a re-export,” Novak said.

“We hope that our European partners will stick to the agreements. That is the only way to ensure there are no interruptions in gas deliveries to European consumers,” Novak said.

The comments come ahead of fresh talks in Berlin between Russia, Ukraine and the EU Commission. Russia suspended deliveries to Ukraine in June due to a price dispute and that could affect supplies to some European countries.

Russia says Ukraine owes it $5.3 billion for unpaid gas deliveries.”We’re prepared not to demand immediate payment straight away. The Ukrainian group Naftogaz should pay $2.0 billion now and we can restructure the rest of the debt,” Novak told the newspaper.

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