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Gazprom ponders longer contracts with Ukraine

      RBC, 26.01.2009, Moscow 10:46:59.Gazprom does not rule out the possibility of entering into contracts for 20 to 25 years with Ukraine, the gas monopoly's deputy CEO, Alexander Medvedev, said in an interview with the Vesti channel. He also said he was hopeful that no one could challenge the 10-year long contracts reached recently. Furthermore, Medvedev explained that the two parties had agreed not to simply shelve the issue but to think over a longer timeline, similar to that in Gazprom's contracts with other parties, long before the current 10-year period would be over. Medvedev said that new contracts could cover 20 to 25 years, which would ensure the security "everyone was dreaming of."

      An agreement between Ukraine and the United States to revamp the Ukrainian gas pipeline system will not hurt the Russia-Ukraine arrangements, Medvedev believes. However, he was highly skeptical of the document, noting that its signing was conditional upon the availability of not only gas, but also gas consumers. He noted that as far as he was aware, the U.S. government could provide neither. He added that although every government had a right to enter into such agreements, it was certainly intriguing, especially considering that the deal was made at the height of Russia-Ukraine gas talks on December 19, 2008.

      Commenting on Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's criticism of the gas contracts, he said it was not only disappointing but also alarming, and defined it as an unjustified attempt to put the blame on the people who sought to take responsibility.

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