EU may provide energy assistance package to Ukraine

Kiev : The European Union (EU) is considering an assistance package to Ukraine in a bid to reduce Russian influence on the country’s energy sector, Ukraine’s Energy and Coal Minister Yuri Prodan said here Friday.

“The aid package provides for financial assistance, increased reverse gas supplies and European gas network operators’ solidarity with Ukraine,” Xinhua quoted Prodan as telling parliament after his visit to Brussels.

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The preliminary agreement with the 28-member EU block envisages prospects for Ukraine to start reverse flows of gas from France via Slovakia and Romania, Prodan said.

He added that Kiev was also planning to increase gas imports from Germany.

Prodan added that the EU is also ready to dismiss a possibility to increase gas flows via Russia’s Yamal-Europe and North Stream pipelines, if Moscow halts gas exports to Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday warned European leaders that Moscow may cut gas supplies to Ukraine over Kiev’s huge debt.

Russia April 3 cancelled zero export tax for natural gas it supplies for Ukraine.

Russian gas giant Gazprom cancelled discounts on gas supplies to Ukraine and set the price at $385.50 per 1,000 cubic metres, a sharp hike from $268.50 agreed to last December.