EU concerned about problems in Ukraine's payments for gas

The European Union is concerned about problems with Ukraine's payments for Russian natural gas, as Brussels has reasons to doubt Kyiv's reliability as a gas transit country, Russian permanent representative at the EU Vladimir Chizhov said.

 "The European Union is reacting to all this with well-understandable concerns and even elements of nervousness, because history of the past several years doesn't give reasons to our European Union partners to be sure about Ukraine's reliability as a gas transit country," Chizhov said on the Rossiya-1 TV channel.

The prepayment for gas made recently by Kyiv will not resolve problems with gas supplies in the future, he said.

"The fact that some prepayment has been made, as far as I understand, for gas that will be shipped within the next several days can be seen as a positive step, but this doesn't resolve problems concerning the future period," he said.

The talks on gas that the EU, Russia and Ukraine will hold in Brussels on March 2 will only seek to resolve issues surrounding the winter package of agreements, European Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said at a briefing in Brussels on Friday.

Asked about the possibility that Gazprom (MOEX: GAZP) would shut off gas supplies to Ukraine before the meeting in Brussels begins, Itkonen said that the European Commission was focused on the seriousness and urgency of the situation, which is why it organized the meeting on Monday.

The European Commission is pleased that the Ukrainian and Russian sides accepted the proposal, she said. She declined to comment on a "unilateral decision" by Gazprom concerning gas supplies to Ukraine. The European Commission expects that all sides will uphold the winter package of agreements, and that gas flows to the European Union will remain at normal levels, she said. The winter package is the only item on the agenda, she said, adding that a summer package would not be discussed.

Read more: The week in quotes: gas, journalists’ brains and generous Russian deputies

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