KIEV: The EU said on Friday that it was a "top priority" for the bloc to see Russia continue sending gas through Ukraine in the future despite a conflict between the two ex-Soviet countries.
The 28-nation bloc relies on Moscow for about a third of its gas supplies, with half of that amount transiting through Ukraine.
Kiev and Moscow have signed a deal under which Russia is obliged to supply its fuel to Europe via Ukraine's gas transportation system until 2019.
"I have to underline that continuation of the important gas transit through Ukraine in (the) post-2019 period is a top priority for the European Union," Maros Sefcovic, European Commission vice president for energy, said during a visit to Kiev.
Ties between Moscow and Kiev were shredded when Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and supported a pro-Kremlin insurgency in the east of the country following a pro-Western uprising in Kiev in 2014.
After numerous gas disputes with Kiev in recent years, Russia is now seeking to reduce transit of supplies via Ukraine or even totally halt them after the current contract expires.
For Kiev, the transit of Russian gas is an important source of revenue and the Ukrainian authorities are trying to oppose the gas pipeline projects launched by Moscow to diversify delivery routes.
While its Nord Stream route under the Baltic to Germany has been put into operation, the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline struggles to materialise, being hampered by geopolitical tensions.
While Russia insists the project is economically viable and aimed at boosting gas delivery capacity, Ukraine and its Eastern European allies try to prevent the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.