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EU and Russia to meet November 25

EC vice-president for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic and Russia's energy minister Alexander Novak are to meet on Friday 25 November, confirmed an EC spokeswoman.

EU and Russia to meet November 25


EC vice-president for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic and Russia's energy minister Alexander Novak are to meet on Friday 25 November, 2016, confirmed an EC spokeswoman.

The European Commission (EC) is waiting to hear if its offer to mediate in gas talks between Russia and Ukraine will be accepted by Moscow.

An EC spokeswoman said November 17 that EC vice-president for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic foresees a meeting with his Russian counterparts next week to evaluate the situation.

She added: «The Commission remains, as before, ready to mediate the trilateral talks between Russia and Ukraine insofar as the two parties wish to continue negotiations in the trilateral format.»

Later November 18, she confirmed that Sefcovic and Russian energy minister Alexander Novak are to meet on Friday 25 November, following reports to that effect from the Kremlin that morning.

Two months ago Sefcovic offered his services as mediator in such talks, a gesture welcomed by senior Ukrainian politicians but not apparently by Novak.

For the past two winters, such trilateral talks led to agreement of a ‘Winter Package’ that guaranteed Russian supplies and Ukrainian transiting of gas to the EU.

In March, Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz extended the package until late June 2016.

Since then Ukraine has claimed it may cope with gas imports from Western Europe, while Gazprom and Naftogaz – and separately Naftogaz and Russia – have become involved in legal wrangles.

The case involving Russia relates to assets confiscated during its 2014 «annexation» of Crimea/east Ukraine.

The EC softened its line with Gazprom earlier this month by allowing it greater use of an online pipeline, Opal, into which the Nord Stream-1 pipelines feed.

Earlier this week the Kremlin said that Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the telephone there was a continuing risk that Ukraine might siphon off Russian gas destined for Europe; it added that both leaders had agreed to talks about gas involving Gazprom, Russia’s energy minister and the EC.

Western gas exports to Ukraine may include some re-exported Russian gas, something that irks Gazprom.

Russian leaders may feel emboldened by the election of Donald Trump as the next US president.

The Kremlin said November 14 that, in a call to Putin, Trump said he wanted an enduring relationship with Russia.

Three days later at a meeting with Merkel in Berlin, outgoing US president Barack Obama urged Trump to stand up to Russia.

In unrelated news, the EC November 18 said it has found that Poland's plans to provide zloty 7.95bn (€1.79bn) of financial support to alleviate the social and environmental impact of closing its uncompetitive coal mines by 2018 are in line with EU state aid rules.



Author: Mark Smedley


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