Dvorkovich: Customs Union membership would benefit Ukraine in gas relations with Russia

The high price of gas for Ukraine is due to market pricing used by Gazprom and, if Kiev wants better terms based on political partnership, it would be worth thinking about joining the Customs Union, Deputy Russian Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said at the 9th annual conference in Yalta on Saturday.

"There is political partnership and there is the market…If the market, then there\'ll always be price discrimination. If Ukraine wants beneficial [gas] relations with Russia ten it might have to join the Customs Union," he said.

Dvorkovich said Gazprom is an independent company and the government does not interfere in its work, although it is often asked to, by the Ukrainian government among others.

Lower market prices will mean losses for Gazprom but those will be offset by other benefits in the case of the Customs Union, he said.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said at the conference that she doubted Gazprom was independent as it is state-owned. She said that in the recent gas conflict with Ukraine it was the Russian president who announced supplies has ended, not Gazprom.

Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said it was just as hard to believe that Gazprom was an independent company as it was that Ukraine had independent courts.

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