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  Wednesday, January 20, 2021
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Representatives of countries consuming and transiting Russian natural gas gather
Representatives of countries consuming and transiting Russian natural gas gather on Saturday in Moscow as efforts intensify to resolve the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine.

The summit was proposed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday at an emergency meeting with the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Slovakia and Moldova, among the countries worst-hit by the cut in Russian gas deliveries via Ukraine, which were halted on January 7.

An EU-brokered deal signed on Monday to have transits restarted has not been enough to resume deliveries, even though international monitors were deployed to ensure gas would not be siphoned off.

Eighteen EU member states and several other European countries have had gas supplies either halted or seriously disrupted. A senior European Union spokesman warned on Friday that "the meetings in coming days offer the last and best chance for Russia and Ukraine to demonstrate they are serious about resolving this dispute."

The prime ministers of Russia and Ukraine meet on Saturday in Moscow for talks on the crisis. Yulia Tymoshenko declared on Friday that her government had sole responsibility in Ukraine for negotiating a way out of the crisis.

Vladimir Putin was in Berlin on Friday leading Russia's efforts to form a consortium of gas companies to help move towards a solution to the dispute, particularly in terms of providing Ukraine with the technical gas it says it needs to transit Russian exports to Europe.

Gazprom, Germany's E.ON, Ruhrgas and Wingas, Gaz de France and Italy's Eni have agreed to join the consortium and more firms could soon follow suit.

Putin said the technical gas would cost $730 million for the first three months of 2009, noting that Ukraine had asked for 360 million cubic meters of technical gas in January, 600 million in February and 600 million in March.

The final makeup of participants in the gas summit is not yet known, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday invitations had been sent to European Union members and other countries affected by the dispute.

EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and Czech Energy Minister Martin Riman, whose country holds the EU presidency, are expected to take part, while Serbia will be represented by its energy minister and the head of national gas utility Srbijagas. Armenian president and Kazakhstan's prime minister have both confirmed they will attend.

Russia suspended supplies to Ukraine on January 1 after the former Soviet neighbors failed to agree on debt and prices for 2009. The halt in shipments to the EU came a week later, with Gazprom accusing Kiev of stealing gas intended for EU consumers. Ukraine has denied the accusation.


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