Guenther Oettinger
European Commissioner for Energy Gunther OettingerReuters

The European Union has acted as peacemaker between Russia and Ukraine as it brokered a deal that will see the former begin supplying gas to the latter over the winter months.

The deal also means that gas supplies to EU countries via Ukraine remain secure in a package that will be worth $4.6bn (£2.9bn) which will be part funded by the EU and the International Monetary Fund.

The European Commission said in a statement: "Unprecedented levels of EU aid will be disbursed in a timely manner, and the International Monetary Fund has reassured Ukraine that it can use all financial means at its disposal to pay for gas."

"Further work with the international financial institutions on financial assistance to Ukraine, also in relation to gas supplies, will still continue. But all three sides are reassured that Ukraine will have the necessary financial means."

The EU will also act as a guarantor for Ukraine.

It puts a halt to lengthy discussions over recent months regarding a $1.6bn gas bill that Ukraine did not pay to Russia, which led to Russia cutting off gas supplies to its smaller neighbour.

EU energy chief Guenther Oettinger said that he was confident that Ukraine would be able to foot the gas bill and added that it was "perhaps the first glimmer of a relaxation in the relationship between the two neighbouring countries."

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, added: "There is now no reason for people in Europe to stay cold this winter."

"This is an important step for our shared energy security in the European continent."

Alexander Novak, Russia's Energy Minister, said: "I want to reassure you that Russia has always been a reliable supplier of energy resources to Europe and other consumers. It has been, is and will be a reliable supplier.

"The autumn and winter period is safe [for Ukraine] and the supply to European consumers is also stable. We are convinced that our future relations will be constructive and that our agreements will be fulfilled."