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Ukraine signs gas deal

Ukraine signs gas deal
Ukraine has removed conditions that had threatened a gas deal to resume Russian supplies to Europe.

Ukraine has removed conditions that had threatened a gas deal to resume Russian supplies to Europe.

Ukraine has removed conditions that had threatened a gas deal to resume Russian supplies to Europe, Russia's gas export monopoly said on Monday.

The removal of the additions, which Moscow described as a "mockery of common sense," offers the rival former Soviet republics a second chance of securing agreement to deploy monitors to check gas flows across Ukraine to Europe.

Supplies to Europe have been cut off for nearly a week in freezing temperatures after Russia accused Ukraine of siphoning off gas to make up for losses it has suffered since Moscow turned off the tap on January 1 in a dispute over gas prices.

A Gazprom statement said Kiev had signed the deal on deploying monitors to ensure smooth gas transit.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's spokesman said: "We keep our fingers crossed that this is not another game and we really have a proper document."

Dmitry Peskov added that if so, international observers could start monitoring the supplies through Ukraine and Russian supplies could flow again.

The gas row is yet another power-play between the neighbors, whose relations have been strained since Ukraine elected pro-Western leaders after the "Orange revolution" in 2004 and tried to shrug off Russia's influence.

The European Union has tried to steer a neutral course between the two, and helped broker the deal over the weekend to allow monitors on Ukrainian territory. But the agreement foundered when Ukraine added conditions to the deal.

But the bloc's Czech presidency said on Monday the weekend agreement still held.


Peskov said Russia had sent a delegation to Brussels for new talks on restoring its gas supplies to Europe and "to convey once again the position of the Russian Federation in this dispute."

"Gazprom is continuing to do whatever is possible to resume the transit and it will continue to do whatever is possible to resume the flows in the coming days," he told reporters.

Gazprom said the deal secured at the weekend would have to be signed again.

Russia has said it will turn the taps on only when the gas monitoring deal is signed by all sides and monitors are deployed.

Gazprom and Ukraine have said it will take at least 36 hours before gas reaches EU borders after flows resume, which means most countries will not get Russian gas before Wednesday.

The commercial dispute over gas prices has played out against a background of broader tensions between Ukraine, which is seeking to join the NATO alliance, and its giant eastern neighbor.

The EU gets a fifth of all its gas supplies from pipelines that run from Russia and then across Ukraine.

Eastern and central Europe have borne the brunt of the gas supply disruptions, with Bulgaria shutting schools because it could not heat them and Slovakia saying it would re-start a nuclear reactor which it shut down last year.


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