Vice Prime Minister Serhiy Tihipko, heading the Strong Ukraine Party, believes that the plans for construction of three Russian underground gas storages are a threat to Ukraine's transit potential, the Party press service informs.

"Russia pursues a consistent policy in the sphere of diversification of gas supply routes to Europe. It is internal affair of Russia, but Ukraine should realize what threats such a policy brings from the viewpoint of the country's energy security," the politician stated, UKRINFORM reported.

According to him, the largest in Europe underground gas storages is the main competition advantage of the Ukrainian gas transportation system.

"If we are deprived of this advantage, the value of the gas transportation system will considerably drop," Tihipko is convinced.

He believes that it is necessary for Ukraine to intensify a gas dialogue with Russia and Europe. "Our arguments are simple - construction of roundabout gas pipelines and gas storage facilities alternative to Ukrainian is economically groundless. It is cheaper and simpler to find a scheme for modernization of the Ukrainian GTS suitable for all," the Vice Prime Minister noted.

According to him, negotiations of Russia and Slovakia on development of cooperation in the gas sphere are a consequence of the slippage of a dialogue of Kyiv, Moscow and Brussels on the gas issue. "Just Ukraine should be the initiator and the driving force of such negotiations," Tihipko said.

Earlier, the Russian Energy Ministry and Gazprom proposed to realize a project for setting up three underground gas storages on the territory of Slovakia for 60-65 billion cubic meters of gas.

Gazprom is planning by 2015 to increase almost twofold capacities of its underground gas storages in Europe to 4.9 billion cubic meters. Presently, the company uses capacities of underground gas storages in Austria (first stage of the Haidach underground gas storage), as well as rents them in Great Britain (Humbly Grove), Germany (Reden and capacities of the underground gas storage VNG) and France (capacities of Vitol Company).

50 billion of cubic meters of Russian natural gas are transported annually via the territory of Slovakia to the European countries.

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