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Russia To Help Pay For Gas Transit, Risks Remain

Russia's Igor Sechin said Moscow has proposed a solution to its disagreements with Ukraine.
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia will help pay for supplying enough natural gas to ensure transit to European consumers via Ukraine, but supply risks have not yet been eliminated, Russia's senior energy official was quoted as saying.

"From our point of view, risks remain," Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said during a meeting with EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, Interfax news agency reported.

"We have not yet reached guaranteed stability and we are prepared to clarify our position on this issue," Interfax quoted Sechin as saying.

"When we say there's a problem, we also propose a solution. We have even agreed to co-financing," Sechin said.

The supply of "technical gas" to Ukraine -- the gas needed to ensure transit supplies are pumped through its pipeline system -- was a major sticking point in the standoff that led Russia to sever supplies to Europe for two weeks in January.

At the time, Ukraine said Russia should supply this gas free of charge, a demand that was rejected by Moscow.

In a sign relations might be thawing, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, visiting Moscow on April 29, welcomed Russia as a key partner in the EU-backed renewal of its gas pipeline network.

Moscow in turn agreed not to exact a $2 billion fine from Kyiv for using less gas than agreed. Russia was angered by its omission from the pipeline overhaul plan presented by Ukraine in Brussels in March, citing its role as the main gas supplier.