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    EC Announces EU-Russia-Ukraine Talks July 17


Trilateral talks involving Russia, Ukraine and the European Union will take place in Berlin.

by: Mark Smedley

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EC Announces EU-Russia-Ukraine Talks July 17

Trilateral talks involving Russia, Ukraine and the European Union will take place in Berlin, the European Commission (EC) said July 12.

The talks will be about the long-term Russian gas transits via Ukraine once a contract for the latter lapses 2019. The afternoon meeting will take place July 17 at the EC's representation office in Berlin. (The original headline, but not text, of this story cited a wrong date)

Russian energy minister Alexander Novak and Ukraine's foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin will attend, as will EC vice-president Maros Sefcovic who made the announcement of the talks. "Representatives of the two relevant commercial entities will be present," added Sefcovic, in what is understood to be a reference to Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy.

Sefcovic said: "Constructive and stable cooperation between Russia and Ukraine in the field of energy is of utmost importance for both countries and the EU. The need for a continued, long-term transit of Russian gas through Ukraine to the EU in a reliable, commercially viable way is an indispensable part of it. It is clear that time is of the essence. The negotiations that lie ahead of us are complex and therefore, require full attention and constructive engagement. As proven in the past, a trilateral process is the most effective platform to seek a satisfactory solution to the gas matters important for involved parties and to gas transit via Ukraine beyond 2019." Sefcovic had announced a month ago that he hoped to arrange a mediation meeting with Russia and Ukraine. 

In May, German chancellor Angela Merkel sought a guarantee from the Kremlin that it will continue to flow gas via Ukraine, but received merely assurances without any concrete pledge. On July 11, US president Donald Trump accused Germany of being "a captive of Russia" because of its close, and tightening, energy trading links, a charge that Merkel rebutted.