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Ukraine needs to buy 20 bln cu m of gas to keep up supplies to EU


MOSCOW, April 30 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine needs to purchase at least 19.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas to maintain gas transit gas to Europe, a Russian deputy prime minister said on Thursday.

"Ukraine has to purchase and pump no less than 19.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas into its underground gas storage facilities soon, to ensure the uninterrupted transit of Russian gas to European consumers," Igor Sechin said after a meeting with EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

Sechin said that if Ukraine fails to do so, "the disastrous tragedy we lived through in January would recur."

Gazprom suspended gas deliveries to Ukraine on January 1 over non-payment, and the sides' failure to reach a new gas deal. A week later, Gazprom accused Ukraine of stealing gas intended for EU consumers and cut off gas deliveries to the European Union via the country, prompting two weeks of gas shortfalls across much of Eastern Europe.

The standoff was resolved after negotiations between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko resulted in the signing of a new gas agreement on January 19.

Sechin also said that Russia was prepared to help Ukraine finance purchases of gas required for transit to Europe through the Ukrainian transportation system.

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