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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukrainians Ban Changes to Pipeline Policy

KIEV -- Ukraine's parliament passed a law Tuesday to ban the privatization, sale or lease of the country's gas pipeline system in a move that effectively scuppers the idea of setting up a Ukrainian and Russian venture to manage the pipes.

About 80 percent of Russian gas destined for European markets is sent via Ukraine and Gazprom has long wanted to gain control over the Ukrainian gas-transit system. The new law was backed by 430 deputies in the 450-seat chamber. There were no votes against.

The legislation was initiated by the opposition following President Vladimir Putin's remarks that Ukraine was ready to set up a joint gas venture with Russia to manage the gas pipelines across its soil.

"It is a historic step that would finish with claims on energy and political independence of Ukraine," Yulia Tymoshenko, former Ukrainian prime minister and now the main opposition leader, said in the parliament.

Putin said last week that Moscow and Kiev had revived the idea to set up a joint venture to manage the pipelines, adding that the Ukrainian offer was of "a revolutionary nature." Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has long opposed the idea of ceding control of the gas pipeline system.