The timing of the next round of trilateral gas negotiations will be determined by the summer vacation season on one hand and by the upcoming heating season on the other, and the parties do not intend to drag out discussion of contentious issues, Ukrainian Energy and Coal Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn told reporters on Tuesday.
"The next negotiations are planned. We agreed that the European Commission will formulate the protocol of today's meeting and reflect in it all contentious issues and bring them up for subsequent discussion. When this will be done we'll return to these negotiations. We'll see. I think that we shouldn't put this off for the distant future - the issues are very urgent and we certainly don't want to drag them out until the start of the heating season. We don't plan to drag this out until October. We understand that vacation periods will begin now, so we need to approach this issue very carefully so that it does not go into the fall," Demchyshyn said.
The advisability of signing a protocol following the negotiations that were held prompted mixed comments.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that there were "probably some kind of inflated expectations that we were supposed to sign some protocol today."
"In principle, we did not say that we were supposed to sign some binding document. And I want to say that the previous protocol was signed for the winter period and its main goal was to repay Naftogaz's debt to Gazprom. These were basic conditions that had to be reflected in the protocol. At present we have contracts for transit and shipment of gas to 2019. The government of Russia has the right to provide a discount to the Ukrainian side. This discount is granted quarterly. And there is no need to additionally reflect in some protocol conditions that are already reflected in the contract, particularly since the draft of this protocol is not of a legally binding nature. Therefore, today we discussed a draft joint statement on the results of the consultations," Novak said.
The Ukrainian minister said: "A protocol has not been signed. Russia sees no need to sign a trilateral protocol. In our understanding, a protocol was supposed to be signed, like last fall. Russia gives a discount only quarterly. It's not right to give a discount for one quarter without negotiations. We'd like to understand how the discount was established, we wanted it to be like in the winter package. The discussion is continuing. The Russian side is insisting that the price is determined only for the quarter and the next negotiations in September should establish the base for the fourth quarter. We believe this does not make it possible to plan the volume that Ukraine buys and that it is supposed to pump into storage."
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