The Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on Europe to provide Ukraine with a loan so that Kiev can cover its gas debts.
“We consider that our European partners, the European Commission, also can and must lend Ukraine a hand to resolve this problem,” said Putin on Friday at the end of three rounds of negotiation over a gas row with his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, in Milan, Italy.
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The Milan talks, which also involved European Union leaders, failed to deliver any practical breakthrough in the gas dispute between Moscow and Kiev. However, the two sides expressed hope that they would reach an agreement before the upcoming round of talks which is due to kick off in Brussels on October 21.
“We have some certain progress (on the gas issue) but left some details which need to be discussed,” said Poroshenko, adding “Before October 21, we hope to find a solution for the energy question.”
Russia shut off gas deliveries to Ukraine after Kiev failed to make a USD 1.95-billion payment of its USD 5.2-billion debt before the June 16 deadline.
European leaders are concerned over the gas row as Moscow provides 30 percent of Europe’s total gas demand with key pipelines on Ukrainian territory. Ukraine, itself, is also at the risk of facing gas shortage in the winter if the mooted disagreement is not resolved.
Previous gas disputes led Moscow to pull the plug on its gas supply to Ukraine in the winters of 2005-2006 and 2008-2009, disrupting supplies to customers in Europe.