December 27, 2019

Russia and Ukraine drop mutual gas claims worth millions
The gas companies of Ukraine and Russia have agreed to drop all financial claims worth billions of pounds against each other in the latest rapprochement between the two nations bitterly divided by a separatist conflict. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in an interview broadcast on Russian state television on Friday that the two countries are withdrawing all of their lawsuits against each other after they agreed on a gas transit deal last week. Russian gas giant Gazprom, which relies on Ukraine as its single largest transit route to Europe, last week agreed to pay out $2.9 billion (£2.2 billion) to Ukraine stemming from a previous dispute over transit fees. The parties will now withdraw all financial claims that run up millions of pounds on both sides. Ukraine, for one, has managed to secure a freeze of Gazprom’s assets in several countries such as Great Britain, Switzerland and the Netherland. Those assets will now be released. Mr Novak on Friday hailed the deal as “mutually beneficial” and said that courts would otherwise have taken years to rule on those claims. A Gazprom petrol station in Moscow “It’s a good thing,” he said in the interview. “It was important for us to start our relations with a clean slate on January 1.” The two neighboring countries have been hostile to each other since 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and threw its weight behind separatists in eastern Ukraine. Moscow still claims the annexation of Crimea was legal and denies reports of sending troops and weapons to back the separatist rebels. Both countries have, however, been making small steps towards rapprochement since Ukraine elected its new president, former comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy in April. Mr Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin negotiated a major prisoner exchange earlier this year and agreed at a summit meeting earlier this month to release more prisoners by the end of the year.
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