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    Ukrainian PM arrives in Russia for gas talks

    AFP
    02.10.2008 - 13:25 | Son Güncelleme:

    Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Thursday arrived for energy talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, news agencies reported, after a domestic dispute almost scuppered her trip.

    Tymoshenko and Putin were to hold talks on the sensitive topic of gas deliveries, the Ukrainian government said. The issue has caused Moscow to cut supplies to both Ukraine and Western Europe in the past.

     

    But Tymoshenko was temporarily grounded when her plane in Kiev was seized in a bid to "thwart" the trip, her spokeswoman said.

     

    Amid media reports that bitter rival President Viktor Yushcheko was to blame, Tymoshenko arrived in Moscow aboard a chartered plane, Russias Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies reported.

     

    Putin and Tymoshenko were to discuss "a long-term agreement on the delivery of natural gas," the Ukrainian government said. In 2006 Moscow cut off gas deliveries to Ukraine and Western Europe.

     

    Tymoshenko said on Friday that she expected Ukraine to sign a deal with Russia by the end of October on the delivery of gas from 2009 for a period of up to four years.

     

    Soaring prices could complicate talks, however, after Russian gas monopoly Gazprom on Wednesday announced prices for European clients had hit an all-time high of $500 per 1,000 cubic meters.

     

    As Tymoshenko left for Moscow, relations with Russia continued to dominate domestic Ukrainian politics.

     

    The current wave of political turmoil in Ukraine erupted amid differences over how it should react to Russia’s August war in Georgia.


    Yushchenko, a close ally of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, earned Moscows wrath by imposing restrictions on the Russian navy’s access to its Black Sea base, the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol.

     

    Tymoshenko, who is seen as slightly more sympathetic to Moscow, criticized the move. Yushchenko’s office accused her of "treason" for her silence on the invasion.

     

    Tymoshenko then supported a bid by the pro-Russian opposition to reduce the president’s powers, prompting Yushchenko’s party to withdraw, collapsing the coalition and leaving the pro-West government in limbo.


    On Friday Tymoshenko said the split between the pro-West allies could lead to the formation of a new pro-Moscow government, putting an end to Yushchenko’s efforts to bring the former Soviet republic of 47 million closer to the West.


    Fresh from talks in Washington, next week Yushchenko is to visit Britain and Italy -- whose Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is regarded the European leader closest to Putin.

    Yushchenko and Tymoshenko have had a love-hate relationship since 2004, when they joined forces in the so-called Orange Revolution to overturn the rigged election of pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych as president.

    Yushchenko, Tymoshenko and Yanukovych are all expected to compete in a presidential election due by 2010, which is expected to determine the country’s foreign policy for the following five years.

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