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05 March 2024

Russia in 'full understanding' with EU on gas observers: official


Russia has a "full understanding" with the European Union on sending observers to monitor its gas dispute with Ukraine, the spokesman for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told AFP Friday.

"Russia is ready to accept this mission as soon as possible. We do consider that this is imperative for resuming supplies to European customers as soon as possible," Dmitry Peskov told AFP.

"From our end there is a full understanding of the necessity" to get the monitors in place, he added, without confirming if any formal agreement had been signed between the parties.

"I hope that nothing is holding up this plan. I hope that everyone agrees with the composition of the mission."

In a phone conversation late on Thursday with Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek overnight, Putin reaffirmed that Russia was ready to accept EU monitors along with officials from Russia's Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz.

"Putin again underlined Russia's readiness to accept international observers with representatives of Gazprom, Naftogaz and European gas companies" to monitor gas transit, said a statement posted on the government's website.

But he appeared to indicate that Moscow wants Kiev in turn to accept Russian representatives on its territory.

"At the same time, the head of the government underlined the need for a compulsory and parallel monitoring in exactly the same way on Ukrainian territory to register the quantities of Russian gas for Europe," it added.

EU-brokered emergency talks on Thursday ended in disarray apparently on Russia's insistence that it be allowed to send its representatives to Ukraine to monitor the transit of supplies, which Moscow has accused Kiev of stealing.

But EU officials said late Thursday that an agreement had been reached with Russia and the European Commission on Friday demanded that Russian gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine resume immediately.

A payment dispute between Russia and Ukraine has resulted in a cutoff of gas supplies across central Europe. The European Union depends on Russian gas deliveries via Ukraine for around a fifth of its total gas consumption.