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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gazprom Soothes EU Gas Jitters

DAVOS, Switzerland -- Gazprom deputy head Alexander Medvedev sought to assure jittery Europeans on Friday that new deals for the sale of natural gas to Belarus and Ukraine would prevent any more disruptions to Western Europe.

But European Union Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said the continent should steel itself for future disruptions regardless.

Medvedev was asked whether Europe should be concerned that supply disruptions over disputes with Ukraine at the beginning of 2006 and with Belarus earlier this year could continue.

"Now we have in both cases the ... contractual base that eliminates interference of supply. We have increased the security of Russian gas to Europe," he said. "In spite of the absence of support from international organizations, we have a result that is good for everybody."

Medvedev said Gazprom had reached deals with Ukraine and Belarus that avoided "the blackmailing of Russia and Europe" over its voluminous energy supplies.

"It's a substantial enforcement of security of supply in Europe," he said, sitting alongside Piebalgs, the energy commissioner for the 27-member EU, whose members are among Gazprom's biggest customers. Piebalgs nodded politely as Medvedev spoke. But he said that even though the EU and Russia share a mutual dependency with each other for oil and gas, "we need to do our homework and prepare for disruptions."

Asked whether he had any regrets about the high-profile spats with Ukraine and Belarus that resulted in supply problems, Medvedev said there were none.

"We have improved the conditions of supply to Europe, and increased the security of transit," he said, adding that besides five-year contracts with both countries, Gazprom was working on long-term deals with built-in guarantees.