Issues of Russian gas transit to the European Union via Ukraine after 2019 were among the topics of a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Kremlin press service said on Monday.
"In the context of today’s round of trilateral Russia-EU-Ukraine ministerial consultations in Brussels, the sides exchanged views on the problem of Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine’s territory after the expiration of the existing contract in late 2019," the press service said.
The current ten-year contract is expiring in late December and all the three parties are interested in its extension this or that way. Russia needs Ukraine’s pipelines as it is not yet ready to export its gas bypassing Ukraine in 2020. The European Union wants reliable gas supplies in the coming winter, so it is expected to insist on a long-term transit contract for Kiev in a bid to secure investments in the modernization of Ukraine’s gas transport system. As for Ukraine, it hopes for a long-term deal not to lose budget revenues of about three billion US dollars a year.
The latest round of the trilateral gas consultations took place on September 19. Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said after the 40-minute meeting that it was the first one to be held in a constructive atmosphere over the recent years.
After Moscow and Kiev failed to reach a new contract for the supplies of Russian gas to Ukraine in late 2008, Russia’s gas giant Gazprom was supposed to stop supplies of its gas. However it continued transit of gas to fulfil its liabilities to European clients. Ukraine’s Naftogaz opted to steal transit gas provoking the biggest ever interruption of gas supplies to Europe in the depth of winter, TASS reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have discussed the memorandum between Russia and Turkey on Syrian regulation during the phone call on Monday, the Kremlin press service informed.
"Putin has informed [Merkel] on the outcomes of the talks with President of the Republic of Turkey [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan held on October 22, 2019, stressing that the agreements reached take into account the interests of all sides and facilitate the recovery of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," the message informs. "Both sides agreed that the implementation of the memorandum signed by Russia and Turkey will help stabilize the situation in northeastern Syria and promote inter-Syrian political process, namely within the context of the launch of the Syrian Constitutional Committee planned for October 30 in Geneva," the Kremlin added.
On September 23, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced the establishment of the Syrian Constitutional Committee. UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen informed later that the first session of the committee would take place on October 30 in Geneva. The committee is made up of 150 people — 50 delegates to be fielded by Damascus, opposition and civil societies each. Each group is also obliged to name 15 experts to take part in meetings held in Geneva behind closed doors.
On October 9, Turkey launched a military incursion into northern Syria, codenaming it Operation Peace Spring, with the Turkish Armed Forces and the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army carrying it out. Erdogan’s military campaign kicked off with airstrikes on the positions of the previously US-backed Kurdish units. The Erdogan government claimed that its goal is to clear the border area of what it calls ‘terrorists’ (Turkey’s broad label of the Kurdish forces) and establish a 30 km-long buffer zone in Syria’s north, where over 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey would resettle. Ankara’s incursion into Syria has triggered an outcry in the region and across the world. The Syrian SANA news agency branded the operation as an act of aggression, while the international community condemned Erdogan’s military operation.
On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum on joint actions in northeastern Syria. According to the document, as of noon October 23, Russian military police and Syrian border guards have started to monitor the withdrawal of Kurdish military formations to the depth of 30 km from the border. Russia and Turkey will begin the joint patrolling of the area 150 hours later. On the outcomes of the agreement, Ankara stated that it had suspended its large-scale military operation in the area. However, Turkey retains control over the territories where it plans to relocate Syrian refugees in the future.