Russia says gas deal is not valid because of Ukrainian add-on
Russia's president has rejected a deal to resume the flow of his country's natural gas to European countries from pipelines that cross Ukraine.
Dmitry Medvedev declared the European Union-brokered deal invalid on Sunday because of a handwritten document attached to Kiev's agreement.
The two countries separately signed agreements on Saturday, but Medvedev has denounced the additions set out in a so-called declaration.
He called Kiev's declaration that it has not been stealing gas and that it has no outstanding debts to Russia's state-owned utility Gazprom a "mockery of common sense."
He also urged EU officials to demand Ukraine withdraw its declaration that it issued to accompany the agreement.
The European Commission says the declaration can't change the deal, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Medvedev that the copy of the deal Russia has received contains Ukraine's stipulation that it only is valid along with the declaration.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has proposed sending Russian energy officials to a meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels on Monday to explain Moscow's position.
The EU's executive commission said Sunday there was no reason to further delay gas supplies because EU monitors are in place to check that no gas intended for Europe is siphoned off in Ukraine.
Russia cut off gas deliveries through Ukraine on Jan. 1 in a dispute over pricing and transit fees.
Moscow alleges that Ukraine illegally siphoned off supplies meant for other European countries between Jan. 1 and Jan. 7 — a charge Kiev denies.
The monitoring agreement would allow European, Russian and Ukrainian experts to measure the flow of Russian gas through Ukrainian pipelines.
Even if Russia does an about-face on the deal, Ukrainian officials say it would take three days to rebuild adequate pipeline pressure for gas to reach the West.
Gazprom supplies one-quarter of all natural gas consumed by EU countries, and 80 per cent of that gas is piped through Ukraine.
The hardest-hit of the 18 countries affected by the gas cutoff include Bulgaria, Moldova and Bosnia.
With files from the Associated Press