EU's Oettinger: 50 percent chance of Russia-Ukraine gas breakthrough

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 29, 2014 5:17 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - There is a 50:50 chance of a breakthrough in Wednesday's round of gas supply talks between Russia and Ukraine, the European Union's outgoing energy commissioner said.

Guenther Oettinger told Germany's ZDF TV that a lot had been achieved so far in the three-way negotiations, but when asked what the chances were of a breakthrough, he answered: "Fifty percent."

Russia cut off gas flows to Kiev in mid-June, adding to East-West tensions triggered by Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea and fighting in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.

Talks brokered by the European Commission to try to resolve the supply dispute ended without a deal last week.

The negotiations broke down over Ukraine's inability to assure Russia it could settle unpaid bills and provide cash upfront for future supplies.

"We need financial resources for the advance payment of new gas deliveries," Oettinger said, adding that the price that had been agreed for Ukraine to pay Russia's Gazprom - $385 per thousand cubic meters - in advance for deliveries was fair.

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the European Union and United States last Friday to help cash-strapped Ukraine raise funds to pay for Russian gas purchases.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Stephen Brown and John Stonestreet)