Putin: "I can always find a way to agree" with Tymoshenko (Roundup)
Nov 20, 2009, 12:35 GMT
Kiev - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gave critical support Friday to hopes for stable natural gas deliveries to Europe and praised his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko for her manner in negotiating the energy problems despite 'all the difficulties.'
'She (Tymoshenko) is a tough negotiator,' Putin said, as a smiling Tymoshenko looked on.
'But we have always been able to agree, and, in spite of all the difficulties, we have managed to keep to all our commitments,' he added.
Putin made the approving comments at a televised press conference Thursday evening in the Ukrainian city of Yalta.
Putin and Tymoshenko met in the Black Sea port for talks on energy and other bilateral issues.
In January 2009, a five-day halt of deliveries of Russian natural gas to Europe via pipelines through Ukraine over an energy contract row raised political tensions between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the EU.
Putin claimed then that Ukraine was siphoning Russian gas destined for Europe and not paying for it. This was now a non-issue, Putin said.
'Ukraine is fulfilling all of its obligations,' he said. 'We hope to meet the New Year without any problems.'
Tymoshenko also seemed to indicate that energy disputes with the Kremlin were now in the past, and promised Russian natural gas supplies to Europe would not be interrupted.
'We fully and thoroughly will fulfill our obligations on gas transit,' she said. 'We have always met our responsibilities.'
Ukraine's economy has been one of the world's hardest-hit by the international financial crisis, and Tymoshenko's government has struggled to make monthly payments to Russia for natural gas deliveries. Failure to do so would a force another switch off of gas supplies, according to the Kremlin.
Kiev only managed to pay the October bill with hours left on deadline, by tapping into limited foreign currency reserves.
'I hope the payments continue in the future,' Putin said.
Representatives of the two countries' state-owned natural gas companies on Thursday signed a contract setting out planned volumes of Russian natural gas shipments to Ukraine and Europe for 2010.
The contract would take into consideration 'economic realities,' and Russia would not necessarily insist Ukraine consume all gas it contracted for, said Viktor Chernomyrdin, former Russian ambassador to Ukraine, according to an Interfax news agency report.
Besides energy, talks in Yalta on Friday between Russian and Ukrainian officials addressed cooperation in aerospace and nuclear energy technologies, and bilateral trade relations, according to a Korrespondent web magazine report.
Russia and Ukraine were organising a joint venture to develop a home-grown GPS navigation system, including satellites, said Oleksander Zinchenko, head of Ukraine's National Space Agency, in Interfax comments.
Putin participated in a meeting of CIS government heads in Yalta later on Friday before returning to Moscow, according to officials at Ukraine's Foreign Ministry.