Habeck says the gas transit deal with Ukraine will not help Putin’s war chest


(Bloomberg) – German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said Europe is doing “intense” work to keep gas flowing through a key pipeline between Russia and Ukraine as it looks for a solution that doesn’t fill the Kremlin’s coffers.

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The discussions are aimed at “not further filling Putin’s war chest, while still guaranteeing a reliable energy supply for southeastern Europe,” he said on the sidelines of a conference in Berlin on Tuesday.

Europe has tried to rid itself of Russian gas, but several eastern states continue to receive it through a pipeline that runs through Ukraine. The agreement covering this transit arrangement expires at the end of 2024, with officials discussing options to maintain the flow of gas, Bloomberg News reported.

“The Ukrainians don’t need these gas supplies,” Habeck said, “but not all European states have managed to become as independent of Russian gas as we have.”

Germany has fast-tracked several liquefied natural gas terminals to replace shipments from Russia’s Gazprom PJSC. However, the company still ships around 15 billion cubic meters of fuel annually via Ukraine to Europe, mainly to Slovakia and Austria.

Habeck pointed out that “intense discussions have taken place between the European Commission and those countries,” adding that he is personally “very involved.” Ukraine’s largest energy company – state-owned Naftogaz – has ruled out any plan involving cooperation with Gazprom.

Bloomberg News previously reported that one of the options being discussed involves European companies buying gas from Azerbaijan and injecting it into Russian pipelines to Europe. Such an arrangement would allow the continent to avoid increasing Moscow’s revenues.

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