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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tymoshenko Seeks End of Middlemen

KIEV -- Yulia Tymoshenko, expected to become Ukraine's next prime minister, is calling for a new gas deal with Russia that does not involve intermediary companies, her bloc's web site said Monday.

The statement indicates that Tymoshenko intends to go beyond her previous calls for revising the controversial deal that ended this winter's gas war between Ukraine and Russia.

The dispute that erupted over Russia's demand that Ukraine pay a fourfold increase on its gas imports temporarily disrupted supplies of Russian gas to Western Europe and raised concerns that Russia was using its natural gas as a political weapon.

The dispute ended after Ukraine and Russia agreed to deal through a little-known intermediary company, RosUkrEnergo.

Under the controversial deal, Ukraine receives all of its imported natural gas at $95 per 1,000 cubic meters -- a nearly twofold price increase -- from the intermediary rather than buying it at a higher price directly from Russia.

The agreement, which also involved gas supplies from Turkmenistan, was widely criticized as nontransparent and risky for Ukraine, since it would make it almost entirely dependent on RosUkrEnergo for gas imports.

"We must cooperate directly, without intermediaries. Yes, of course, without RosUkrEnergo," Tymoshenko was quoted as saying in an interview in Russian Newsweek, which was posted on her web site.

She pledged to start negotiations as soon as she is sworn in as prime minister, expected to happen later this week.