Russian President Vladimir Putin said a project to deliver Russian natural gas to Europe via Ukraine was only possible if Kiev gave clear guarantees that it would honor its commitments, RIA Novosty reported.

Russian gas transit via Ukraine was raised at the Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, when the leaders of the world's most industrialized nations discussed deliveries of energy resources from Russia to Europe, a member of the Russian delegation said.

"The president said Ukraine was hard to deal with at the moment," the official said. "There is a tri-party project involving Germany, but the relevant agreement with Ukraine has not been signed yet."

Putin said further work on the project would only be possible if Ukraine gave clear guarantees.

Ukraine has demanded that a natural gas consortium established by the Russian and Ukrainian presidents, and the German chancellor in 2002, be closed down. Simultaneously, it is holding talks with Turkmenistan, a major gas producer in Central Asia, on direct supplies of Turkmen gas and the construction of a gas pipeline to bypass Russia.

The gas consortium, which planned to build a natural gas pipeline from Bogorodchany to Uzhgorod, on Ukraine's western border, would allow Gazprom, Russia's natural gas giant, to control gas deliveries through Ukraine's pipeline network.

Since President Viktor Yushchenko and his team came to power in the wake of the "orange revolution" in winter 2004, Ukraine has been trying to reduce its dependence on Russia's energy resources.


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