BRUSSELS: Russia, Ukraine and the European Union will try to reach a deal in Vienna tomorrow to ensure Russian gas supplies next winter, a European source said today.
The European Commission said EU energy chief Maros Sefcovic would meet with Russian energy minister Alexander Novak and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Demchyshyn for talks in the Austrian capital, which come as tensions between Russia and the West run high over the conflict in Ukraine.
The heads of Russian gas giant Gazprom and Ukrainian gas operator Naftogaz will also attend.
Officials hope the talks will see the parties reach a deal after a series of technical meetings since April yielded "progress", a European source said.
The source added that a memorandum of understanding, which sets pricing, duration and quantities for deliveries, "has been secured and is now for the political parties to decide".
Moscow decided to increase the price of gas sold to Ukraine last year after a pro-Russian leadership was ousted in Kiev and replaced by a pro-Western one.
Russia then halted deliveries in June when Kiev refused to pay the increase, but they resumed late last year when the EU brokered a deal to ensure supplies through the bitterly cold winter.
That deal expires on June 30 and the EU and Ukraine are now seeking a fresh agreement that will secure supplies for winter 2015-16.
The EU is hoping for a deal that will cover "at least the winter, up until the end of March," the source said.
Russia accounts for about a third of the EU's gas needs, with half that amount transiting via Ukraine.
The EU, which is anxious to secure its own gas supplies that transit through Ukraine, has asked Kiev to keep 20 billion cubic metres in reserve ahead of winter.