Russian energy giant Gazprom has paid $2.9 billion to Ukraine's Naftogaz to settle a long-running dispute over transit fees for gas transported to Europe, the company said Friday.
"Gazprom carried out the payment of $2.9 billion in accordance with the decision of the Stockholm arbitration court," a Gazprom spokeswoman told AFP.
Naftogaz executive director Yuriy Vitrenko confirmed receipt of the payment in a post on Facebook. Last year's ruling by the Stockholm court had been a major stumbling block to agreeing a new gas transit deal between Moscow and Kiev. The Russian gas giant had previously rejected the claim but President Vladimir Putin said this month Russia wanted to find a solution. In a statement, Naftogaz said the two sides were continuing talks about "the terms of further cooperation" after the current deal expires. Last week Moscow and Kiev signed a preliminary deal on the transit of Russian gas to Europe via Ukraine, after months of difficult talks but ahead of the looming New Year deadline. Putin said earlier this month that Moscow wants to keep some gas flowing through Ukraine, despite having built several pipelines to Europe since the current deal was agreed a decade ago. He added that Moscow had no desire to use its natural resources to strongarm Ukraine into a deal against its will -- something Russia has often been accused of.
"We are interested in Ukraine getting the resources, and our clients in Europe being calm, knowing that our relations with our neighbours are normal," he said.
Ukraine earns around $3 billion per year from sending Russian gas to Europe but ties between the two countries have been shredded since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 and supported a separatist insurgency in the east. Transit problems for Russian gas began after the fall of the Soviet Union when an independent Ukraine won control of the pipeline infrastructure..3
Several supply crises followed, with Russia using gas as a weapon against Ukraine and cutting supplies repeatedly in the early 1990s.The current contract between Russia and Ukraine was signed following the last gas crisis which ended up disrupting European supplies in 2010.