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Archive for Sunday, January 11, 2009

Deal reached on gas transit monitoring

January 11, 2009

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— Ukraine today accepted a deal on the European Union-led monitoring of Russian gas transit across its territory, opening the way for restarting Russian natural gas supplies to a freezing Europe after a four-day halt in shipments.

Russia wanted the written deal to renew gas shipments suspended amid a bitter contract dispute with Ukraine — a move seen by many as another attempt by Moscow to reassert its clout over Western-leaning former Soviet republics.

Russia said it needs European Union monitors deployed to Ukraine to prevent it from stealing Russian gas intended for Europe. Ukraine hotly denied the claims.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, shuttled between Moscow and Kiev on Saturday to mediate the deal. He finally persuaded Ukraine to accept the monitoring pact during marathon talks that dragged past midnight.

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