With help from EU officials, Ukraine and Russia have inked a deal seeing Moscow resume gas supplies to its neighbor over the winter. Brussels said it guaranteed Kyiv's advance payments to Russian giant Gazprom.
Following months of hard bargaining amid a standoff between the West and Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, Moscow and Kyiv inked an accord over the resumption of gas supplies to help Ukrainians get through the winter period.
"I'm glad that political responsibility, the logic of cooperation, and simple economic sense have prevailed," EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said after the signing.
The EU-brokered deal had hinged on firm commitments by Brussels to help the Ukrainian government pay for deliveries in advance as requested by the Russian gas energy company Gazprom.
Russia eventually got what it had bargained for, and Ukraine's authorities for their part were able to present an agreement to domestic voters that did not involve any overpaying for vital supplies.
Wrangling over figures
Ukraine will pay $378 (300 euros) per 1,000 cubic meters of gas through the end of the year and then $365 through the end of March, the duration of the contract.
Payments would be made in advance for the following month. Ukraine obtained a guarantee that the price would not change in the process. Novak added that Kyiv was ready to pay off debts for gas in two installments, noting a total of $1.45 billion would be paid straight away, with a further $1.65 billion to be sent to Russia by the end of the year.
EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, had earlier indicated the 28-member bloc's willingness to bridge finances for cash-strapped Kyiv. Germany even hosted talks between the sides in September. Russia provides about a third of the European Union's gas - roughly half of which is pumped via Ukraine.
Thursday's last-minute deal was seen as a victory for mediating EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who was to leave office Friday, making way for a new European Commission and his Slovak successor, Maros Sefcovic.
hg/mkg (Reuters, dpa, AFP)