Ukraine agreed with neighbor Slovakia on conditions for supplying natural gas from the European Union through Slovak pipelines to reduce dependence on Russia.
The two sides agreed on conditions for flows of gas from west to east and will sign a memorandum as soon as Ukraine is ready, Vahram Chuguryan, a spokesman for Slovak pipeline company Eustream, said by phone. Ukraine may sign the deal this week, Kyiv Post online said, citing Energy Minister Eduard Stavytskyi.
Importing gas from the EU through Slovakia would provide an alternative to Russian supplies at a time when Ukraine has been rocked by protests led by pro-EU opposition to President Viktor Yanukovych. The president backed off European integration deals under pressure from Russia. In the biggest protests since the 2004 Orange Revolution, hundreds of thousands gathered yesterday in Kiev, where a statue of Vladimir Lenin was toppled.
“We have reached an agreement in principle,” Chuguryan said. “Now it’s up to the Ukrainian side to set the date.”
Talks with the European Commission are complete, he said. The boards of Eustream and Ukrtransgaz, transport unit of Ukraine’s state gas company Naftogaz, must sign the accord.