Sunday, January 01, 2006

Putin offers Ukraine a compromise amidst natural gas dispute

MOSCOW/KIEV (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin offered Ukraine a three-month reprieve in a bitter gas price dispute on Saturday, but only gave Kiev until the end of the day to accept Moscow's terms. Ukraine replied that although it agreed in principle to paying market prices for gas, it wanted clearer guidance on exactly what numbers Russia had in mind.
Russia has said it will cut off gas supplies to Ukraine from 0700 GMT on January 1 if there is no agreement, sparking fears that deliveries to snowbound Europe could be affected. Putin told gas monopoly Gazprom to supply Ukraine at 2005 prices for the first three months of next year if Kiev signed a new contract agreeing to "market prices" from April.
"Above all Ukraine is a brother nation and we must think about the whole relationship between Russia and Ukraine," Putin told a televised meeting of the Security Council at which the head of Gazprom, Alexei Miller, was present.
So despite all the differences and seeming growing East/ West ideological schism in Russian/ Ukrainian politics and social policies respectively, there is a strong belief in this pundit's head that these Slav nations will be able to find a compromise in whatever differences they incur being it a Russian Black Sea navy bases in Ukrainian Crimea, issues of dual citizenship, or the latter natural gas dispute. The only impediment and a generator of all of the above occurrences is a nationalist elements in these countries - some media sources do ring bells in regards to a recent addition to string of racially motivated murders of visible ethnic minorities in Moscow, Russia by skinheads, Putin's expansion and upgrades to Russian military, or former Waffen SS collaborators march in Western Ukraine - but all of these do not in any way reflect a radical change or for that matter any change in the ongoing democratic process in both of these countries. Freedom is on the march worldwide.


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