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Energy

Gas negotiations between Russia and Ukraine due to resume in Brussels

Russia and Ukraine are due back around the negotiating table in Brussels, to resume talks aimed at ending a dispute over gas prices. Talks, which paused earlier this week, have been delayed overnight.

The negotiations were originally due to resume Tuesday evening, but were later postponed until Wednesday morning. According to the European Commission, the delay was caused by the late arrival of the Russian delegation to Brussels on Tuesday night.

The talks are being mediated by the EU Energy Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, involving the energy ministers of both Russia and Ukraine.

Eight hours of talks, which began Monday evening and ended early Tuesday, finished without a deal. However, a Tuesday morning deadline for Kyiv to pay back some of the debt it owes Russia for gas passed without Moscow shutting off supplies, due to the further talks being scheduled.

Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak and Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan conferred with their respective governments on Tuesday about their next steps.

The conflict over gas pricing is intrinsically linked to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Kyiv wants to change the contract which locked it into buying a set volume of gas at $485 (about 360 euros) per 1,000 cubic meters, the highest price paid by anyone in Europe.

Moscow slashed the price by almost half when Ukraine's then-president, Viktor Yanukovych, ditched a trade and association agreement with the EU last November. But after Yanukovych was ousted in February following months of protests against his governance, Moscow raised the price.

Russia has also said Ukraine must pay some of its hefty gas debt, which Moscow says totals about $5.2 billion, before prices can be talked about. Kyiv paid off $786 million of its debts in early June.

The European Union has an interest in resolving the dispute. Russia supplies about a third of the EU's gas, with about half of that reaching the bloc through pipelines across Ukraine.

se/kms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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