MOSCOW, July 28 (RIA Novosti) - The European Commission has suggested a meeting between EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger and Russian Energy Minister Aleksander Novak to discuss gas-related issues on August 29 in Moscow, a spokesperson for the European Commission told RIA Novosti.
The European Commission had initially hoped to have a trilateral meeting between the European Union, Russia and Ukraine before August. However, the suggested bilateral talks between Oettinger and Novak do not presuppose having the trilateral meeting in the next month.
The spokesperson said that the European Commission was awaiting Moscow’s reply. The bilateral talks should prepare the groundwork for a three-party meeting in the future.
A Russian Energy Ministry representative told RIA Novosti that the ministry had not yet received the proposal from the European Commission.
Trilateral talks took place from April until mid-June, but did not yield any major results. Kiev insisted on a dramatic reduction in prices for Russian gas, refusing to clear its existing debt, which, by that time, had reached $4.5 billion. Russia suggested a price reduction, but Ukraine did not agree to the conditions of the offer.
Later, Russia stated it was ready to resume the discussion only once Ukraine had paid off its debt. Gazprom switched to prepayment system for gas deliveries to Ukraine on June 16. The most recent estimate puts Ukraine’s debt at $5.3 billion.