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Russia, Ukraine start EU-backed talks to avoid new gas wars

Staff Writer |
Moscow and Kiev envoys met in Berlin for EU-backed talks on future Russian gas shipments through Ukraine, which fears being left out in the cold by a major new pipeline.

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Ukraine is anxious that the planned Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline from Russia to Germany that will bypass it geographically will also leave it politically isolated and deprive it of crucial transit fees.

U.S. President Donald Trump has weighed in on the dispute, charging the pipeline would increasingly make Germany a "captive of Russia" while vowing the United States will compete in Europe with tankerloads of liquified natural gas (LNG).

Russia's state-controlled gas giant Gazprom has already dramatically cut the volume of gas transiting via Ukraine, where an armed conflict has simmered against pro-Moscow rebels since Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Gazprom and its partners plan to complete by late next year Nord Stream 2 - effectively doubling Russian shipments now flowing through the existing Nord Stream 1 line.

Another project set for completion by late 2019, the Turkish Stream pipeline, threatens to further reduce the traditional role of Ukraine as a major gateway into Europe for Russian gas.

The Nord Stream 2 plan has raised fears in the EU, and especially in eastern Europe, of excessive reliance on gas from a hostile Russia that could use energy exports for political leverage.

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