Ukraine and the European Union signed a declaration on Monday to modernize the ex-Soviet state's natural gas pipeline network. Russia, which transits about 80% of its Europe-bound gas via Ukraine, said it was excluded from the talks in Brussels, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin threatened to review ties with the EU.
"If you want my opinion, it looks as if a deaf man and a blind man sat at a table and signed the paper without even understanding what they had signed," the UNIAN news agency quoted Viktor Chernomyrdin as saying.
The EU endorsed Ukraine's plan to modernize its Soviet-era pipelines and underground storages and build new gas metering stations, for which Europe pledged 2.5 billion euros ($3.4 billion) and promised to encourage more investment on the condition Kiev reform the sector to make it more open and transparent.
Ukraine also asked the EU to help build two more pipelines to increase the network's capacity by about 60 billion cubic meters to 200 billion cu m, a project it earlier estimated at $5.5 billion.
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