EU says Russia-Ukraine Gas Deal ‘Very Close’
Ukraine wants to reduce its dependency on Russia for its gas needsReuters

Ukraine wants to put an end to its reliance on Russian gas imports by establishing better connections with the European Union, according to the state-run gas firm Naftogaz.

Kiev aims to avoid using the interim gas deal it signed with Russia for as long as possible, Naftogaz chief Andriy Kobolyev told Reuters news agency, who said the deal was little more than an insurance policy.

"Signing this deal with the Russian Federation was necessary to make sure that we are able to go through peak demand when we have low temperatures," he said. "As soon as we decided it is time to pay for Russian gas, we will make an advance payment."

Ukraine and Russia signed a deal in late October that should cover Kiev's gas needs throughout the winter months, although the deal is only a temporary measure.

Kobolyev said Ukraine had significant gas in storage, adding that the length of time that it lasts will depend on the weather over the winter months.

In the long run, Ukraine is seeking to import gas from other producers like Norway or from EU countries that would send Russian gas to Kiev, meaning that Kiev does not have to deal with Moscow directly.

"We are trying to resolve this," said Kobolyev, as cited by Reuters. "We believe that will be the best solution for everybody if there is such a huge loss of trust between Ukraine and Russia."

Ukraine currently relies on Russia for around half of its gas needs.