The presidents of Ukraine and Russia met in Milan, Italy Friday to work towards a resolution in the ongoing dispute over gas supplies to Ukraine. A gas deal was reached, according to the leaders, but European leaders felt that Russia still had much work to do regarding the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine.
“We agreed on all the parameters of this deal,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia will supply Ukraine with gas “at least for the winter,” Putin told reporters, but he urged European countries to assist Ukraine in settling its $4.5 billion gas bill with Russia.
Russia cut off Ukraine’s gas supply last June.
The Russian leader met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in a one-on-one meeting Friday.
“I cannot see a breakthrough here at all so far,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “We will continue to talk. There was progress on some details, but the main issue is continued violations of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
Italy, Ukraine and Russia agreed, however, to join France and Germany in monitoring the Ukraine-Russia border with surveillance drones through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is currently overseeing the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine.
Gas talks will continue in Brussels next week, according to EU officials.
Poroshenko told press that he hoped the deal reached Friday could be finalized by next week’s meeting.
“A deal on gas is now really within reach, which is very important for the Ukrainians and very reassuring for the Russians, because they really want to be paid,” said French President Francois Hollande of the prospective deal.
By James Haleavy