President Viktor Yanukovych made comments to "Interfax” on the statement of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who suggested merging Gazprom and Naftogaz similarly to the integration in the nuclear energy, presidential press office reported.

"How to treat the initiative of the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation? In my opinion it should be regarded as one of the possible options for cooperation with Russia in gas trade. Yes, this issue has never been discussed. It's an impromptu. And Ukraine's response will be made public after we estimate everything based on our national interests.

If we decide to start such negotiations, we should certainly invite the EU to them at some stage, as it remains main consumer of gas and main partner.

Let me be specific on the issues most important for Ukraine's national interests in gas trade. First, it is important that Ukrainian gas transport system was technically reliable. So that we were able to supply optimal amounts of gas to Europe.

I would like to repeat: Ukraine is capable of increasing the supply of gas to Europe through certain modernization of the gas transportation system and its partial expansion. This can be done gradually – over, let’s say, five years, without stopping the gas supply to Europe. We have such a plan. In order to realize it, we must work hard with our partners.

First of all, we must estimate capabilities of Russia and Central Asian countries to increase the supplies.

On the other hand, we must have the information from the EU on the maximum volume it can consume.

But the most important factor for us is the technical readiness of the Ukrainian gas transit system.

Based on these factors, on the prognoses and appropriate negotiations Ukraine will have to decide on a response to the initiative of Vladimir Putin. Clearly, the decision that Ukraine will make must be harmonized with our partners – both suppliers and consumers of gas.

What is our goal? It is to not only keep current volumes of gas supply to Europe, but also to increase them. Up to 200 billion cubic meters (to date we are capable of transporting 120 billion cubic meters).

So we must think how to increase our transit capabilities and how to encourage our partners to make gas flowing to Europe through Ukraine.

Russia's recent initiative to build the South Stream bypassing Ukraine was a great surprise for me. If this idea is an attempt of pressure on Ukraine to find common grounds with us on further use of the Ukrainian gas transit system, we can still somehow understand that...

I would like to emphasize: the project of modernization of our transit system is more competitive than the construction of the South Stream. There can be no doubts about that. We know that European countries have different opinions on that. But we have not yet heard the opinion of the European Commission. And this opinion is very important.

So, if it is decided to start negotiations on the Russian Prime Minister’s proposal, the EU must be invited to them as the main consumer of gas," said Viktor Yanukovych.


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