Ukraine's new authorities are seeking a new gas deal with Moscow, offering Russia a stake in the Ukrainian gas transportation system in exchange for lower natural gas prices, a business paper reported on Monday, RIA Novosti informed.

According to Vedomosti, Ukraine has already prepared a bill allowing Russia access to the management of its national gas transportation network, which currently accounts for about 80% of Russian natural gas exports to Europe.

Ukraine's new President Viktor Yanukovych needs to revise a long-term gas deal signed by ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in early 2009, which made Russian gas expensive for Ukraine and further strained Ukraine's meager finances.

Ukraine's Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Boiko is set to visit Moscow this week with gas issues to top the agenda of his meetings with Russian officials, the paper said.

However, Russia is unlikely to agree to a gas price reduction without getting something in return. The main option is to allow Russia to manage the Ukrainian gas transportation system, the paper quoted a source close to Boiko as saying.

It is high time for Ukraine to deal with its gas transportation network as the construction of the Kremlin-backed Nord Stream and South Stream gas pipelines bypassing Ukraine will marginalize the ex-Soviet republic, the paper said.

The details of an international consortium to manage Ukraine's gas transportation system are not yet known but the source said that Russia, Ukraine and the European Union are expected to have equal stakes in it.

Ukraine's gas transportation system is Europe's second largest gas pipeline network and the main route for Russian natural gas supplies to European consumers. In early 2000, Kiev and Moscow discussed the possibility of creating a gas transport consortium with the involvement of European partners to manage and modernize Ukraine's Soviet-era gas pipeline network.

However, when West-leaning President Viktor Yushchenko came to power in Ukraine as a result of the so-called "orange revolution" in 2004, the project was put on hold.

Russia has consistently tried to get a stake in the Ukrainian gas pipeline network to modernize the system and ensure uninterrupted gas supplies to Europe. Ukraine has so far resisted these attempts, saying this would jeopardize its sovereignty.


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