Russia and Ukraine start gas talks in Moscow

Russia and Ukraine held talks over a solution to the escalating gas dispute shortly before the beginning of a European Union crisis meeting in Brussels, media reports said on Thursday.

The heads of Russian state-owned Gazprom, Alexei Miller, and Naftogaz’s Oleg Dubina of Ukraine met in Moscow, Gazprom spokesperson Sergei Kupriyanov said. But he did not give any details about the talks.

Kiev and Moscow are locked in a dispute over gas prices, with Gazprom accusing Ukraine of siphoning off supplies to EU markets since Russia stopped its gas deliveries to its neighbouring country last week.

According to Russia, Ukraine blocked four transit pipelines, making delivery to western Europe impossible. Ukraine has rejected the charges, arguing that Moscow is to blame for turning off the taps.

The cut-off has meant that homes in many EU countries have struggled with heating this winter, as 80% of Russia’s gas deliveries to the EU are transported via Ukraine.

Miller and Dubina are to meet in Brussels with EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and Czech Energy Minister Martin Riman, whose country currently holds the EU presidency. — Sapa-dpa

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