1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Ukraine summit

December 4, 2009

At a meeting between the EU and Ukraine, Kiev vowed to avoid a repeat of fuel shortages in Europe this winter by keeping its gas pipelines open. One-fifth of EU gas supplies travel to Europe from Russia via Ukraine.

A pipeline through which Russian gas is pumped in Ukraine's gas transportation system for further transit to Europe
Gas will keep flowing, Ukraine saysImage: RIA Novosti

Ukraine has told the EU it will to keep oil supplies flowing west and to avoid a repeat of last winter's fuel shortages in Europe.

The promise came in a top-level meeting over relations with the EU and Ukraine in Kiev, after a deal between the two was recently put on hold by Brussels.

EU officials, at their annual summit which takes place toward the end of the year, had asked the former Soviet republic for reassurance that it could be relied upon to keep supplies available.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said that there would be no repeat of the disruption that stemmed from a dispute over payments by Ukraine to Russia. The row led to Russia closing a gas pipeline that flows through Ukraine en route to the west, leaving several EU states short of fuel.

"Ukraine will manage to secure the functions of Russian gas transit," said Yushchenko. "I ask you to accept this as a guarantee."

An Ukrainian car enters the European Union on the Polish Ukrainian border
Ukraine has a lot of work to do before it has a real chance at EU membershipImage: AP

"We asked all those engaged to solve their bilateral problems and to be predictable as a supplier of energy," Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told reporters.

The EU has been concerned about natural gas flowing through Ukraine due to that nation's dire economic situation and hints last month that it might be unable to meet pay its gas bill to Russia. The EU's fears were eased on Friday when Russian state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom said Ukraine had paid its last month's gas bill on time.

One fifth of all the EU's natural gas flows through Ukraine's 13,500-kilometer (8,400-mile) pipeline network.

Fair election

Besides the gas issue, European Union officials stressed the importance of free and fair voting when Ukraine holds a presidential election on January 17. It will be the first election of its type since the pro-Western Orange revolution in 2004, which worsened relations with Russia.

Bitter rivals - Prime Minister Tymoshenko and President Yushchenko
Bitter rivals - Prime Minister Tymoshenko and President YushchenkoImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

"We expect these elections to be free and fair as has happened in the past, and after the elections that there will be a commitment for strong governance so that Ukraine can advance towards its legitimate European aspirations," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said at a press conference.

Yushchenko is running for re-election but opinion polls suggest he has little chance against his rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who last month met with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to discuss fuel supplies.

Political and economic stability

Barroso urged the split Ukrainian leadership to "ensure the country's political and economic stability."

The country was also advised them to get back on track with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which set up a $16.4 billion bailout program. But the IMF suspended the program until after the election because of political infighting which has resulted in broken promises of fiscal prudence.

At the summit, Yushchenko complained about the postponed signing of an agreement that would strengthen links between Ukraine and the EU. Ukraine would eventually like to become a member of the European bloc.

He said Brussels needed to better understand the country's position as a prospective member, and blamed Prime Minister Tymoshenko for Kiev's failure to meet certain commitments to the EU.

The association agreement, which was to be finalized this year, had been intended to boost ties without promising EU membership to Ukraine.


Editor: Kyle James