Ukraine Seeks Energy 'Security Guarantees' From Biden-Merkel Meeting

KYIV (Reuters) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is pinning hopes on the United States and Germany to come up with energy "security guarantees" for Ukraine amid fears over Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who travels to Washington this week to meet President Joe Biden, said on Monday that Germany and the EU would guarantee Ukraine's status as a transit country for Russian gas even after the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has opened.

Washington fears Russia could use Nord Stream 2 as leverage to weaken EU states by increasing their dependency on Moscow. The project, about 95% complete, would bypass Ukraine, likely depriving it of lucrative transit fees and potentially undermining its struggle against Russian aggression.

"Mrs. Merkel ... will be in the U.S. with all the information. This is very important. After this meeting (with Biden), we will receive their proposal on security guarantees for Ukraine," Zelenskiy told journalists in Kyiv.

Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014. Efforts to resolve the conflict with Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine have reached a stalemate, despite ceasefires and peace agreements.

Zelenskiy says that Ukraine, if it loses transit fees of $2 billion a year, would face many problems, including of providing fuel for its 41 million people.

Ukraine used to import Russian gas but since 2015 has bought gas from Europe. Russian and Ukrainian gas companies signed a five-year deal at the end of 2019 to safeguard the transit of Russian gas to Europe via Ukraine.

"Gas prices. It's one thing when we are a transit country... But what if we don't have (transit)? If there is no transit, but there is an opportunity to receive gas from Europe by agreement, then at what price? Who will compensate us?" Zelenskiy said.

"We must calculate all the careless steps and have every, absolutely every, guarantee."

Gas prices have skyrocketed in recent weeks, raising Ukraine's concerns about the possibility of generating sufficient reserves ahead of winter.


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