Russia, Ukraine sign gas transit deal for the next five years

The new agreement will enter into force on 1 January

Russia and Ukraine reached on Monday a deal to ensure the flow of Russian natural gas through Ukraine to Europe for the next five years. Ukraine is set to get more than $7 billion in gas transit fees by 2024 under the new deal with Gazprom, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said. It is also a positive signal for the EU nusinesses dependent on the reliable delivery of natural gas from Russia. "Europe knows that we will not fail when it comes to energy security," Zelenskiy pointed out.

Kiev and Moscow have repeatedly clashed on gas prices and transit fees in the past, leaving consumers in Europe occasionally cut off from a key energy source. The two sides had been pushing to reach a new accord before the previous one expires on 31 December, potentially interrupting gas supplies to Europe.

Gazprom Chairman Alexey Miller said the accord would go into force on Tuesday. "After five days of uninterrupted negotiations in Vienna, definitive decisions have been made and final deals have been reached," he said in a statement. Earlier this month, Gazprom agreed to pay some $2.9 billion to Ukraine's Naftogaz in order to settle a long-running dispute on transit fees. While the new deal is set to expire in 2024, there is an option to prolong it for another ten years.

The Russia-Ukraine gas agreement comes as the two countries remained locked in conflict over Russia's annexation of Crimea and Moscow's support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. It comes after Zelenskiy met with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time in early December alongside the leaders of Germany and France in a bid to restart stalled peace talks to end the conflict in Ukraine. The negotiations paved the way for the new gas deal and a prisoner exchange over the weekend. 

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