Ukraine's energy minister indicates Kyiv is ready to halt Russian gas transit completely
German Halushchenko (Photo: EPA / STEPHANIE LECOCQ)

Energy Minister German Halushchenko opposed the continuation of transit of Russian gas after 2024, when the current contract expires. In an interview with Bloomberg, he expressed a position that contradicts the recent statement of Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

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At a press conference on Monday, Shmyhal said that Ukraine is ready to provide a gas transit service from Russia after the end of the contract, if the EU countries order it. Above all, this concerns Austria and Slovakia as they import gas from Russia via Ukraine.

Halushchenko said that such an option is not on the agenda.

"We are ready to stop this [transit]. If someone said that it’s a critical issue for survival during the winter, that it is an issue of security of supply, that’s one situation. But I don’t see this situation," the minister said.

As an option, Halushchenko suggested using Ukrainian underground storage facilities.

In 2023, Ukraine transported 14.6 billion cubic meters of Russian gas. According to Halushchenko, before the heating season, the same volume could be pumped into underground gas storages, and in the winter – raised and exported to the European Union.

"I think that's fair. Don’t say that we can’t live without Russian gas," he said.

The long-term transit contract between Ukraine and Russia was concluded for 2020-2024. Currently, it provides for the transit of 40 billion cubic meters every year, but Russia does not use that much and does not compensate for the shortage, despite the rule "pump or pay". Because of this, Naftogaz initiated international arbitration against Gazprom. In 2022, Russia transported about 20.35 billion cubic meters of natural gas through the Ukrainian gas transportation system. This was the lowest volume of transit during Ukraine's independence since 1991. In 2023, it fell to 14.6 billion.

In June 2023, Ukraine announced for the first time that the gas transit contract with Russia is unlikely to be extended.

The European Commission believes that the EU will survive completely without Russian gas, if necessary.