Source Pravda.Ru

Russia reffers to EU with Ukrainian problem

Russia asked the EU Wednesday to help resolve a gas price dispute with Kiev, which threatens to disrupt Russian gas supplies to Europe, most of which are piped through Ukraine.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and several members of his Cabinet met with EU officials Wednesday to discuss bilateral relations.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told after the meeting that he was confident the Moscow-Kiev dispute can be resolved so "there is no problem with the supply of gas to Europe."

Ukraine has rejected Moscow's attempts to increase the price of gas threefold and pay the full market price for the gas.

Fradkov said he hoped the EU will "find additional arguments to convince our Ukrainian partners ... to avoid any violation of the economic balance."

Almost half of the EU's gas imports come from Russia and European demand is expected to double by 2030. In September, Russia began building a Baltic Sea pipeline to diversify supply routes, especially to Germany, the largest foreign customer of Gazprom, the Russian gas company.

Russia and Ukraine had failed to reach a gas transit deal this week.

Fradkov said he hoped the EU will "find additional arguments to convince our Ukrainian partners ... to avoid any violation of the economic balance."

Wednesday's discussions ranged from a new visa deal between Russia and the EU, to energy, security and Moscow's future World Trade Organization membership.

EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen and Russian Industry Minister Viktor Khristenko signed two deals for regulators to cooperate in such areas as telecommunications, information technologies, cars, textiles, chemicals and pharmaceuticals by adopting common technical standards for industrial products.

Barroso said the EU wanted to have "a very constructive, strategic relationship" with Russia, the AP reports.

V.Y.

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