Moscow hopes international consortium will put an end to Ukrainian gas theft

The conclusion of an agreement between Russia, Ukraine and Germany on setting up an international consortium in the gas sphere "has become a serious step towards eliminating many problems in Russian-Ukrainian relations," said Russian Prime Minister Kasyanov on Friday. He was opening a meeting of the inter-state mixed Russian-Ukrainian cooperation commission in Kharkov. On the Ukrainian side the commission is headed by Prime Minister Anatoly Kinakh.

Ukraine's stealing of Russian energy sources from the export pipe running to the West has become one of the problems souring relations between Moscow and Kiev.

Mikhail Kasyanov described the decision to create the consortium as an "event that has aroused interest at world level." The premier said that at present working groups are drafting an inter-governmental agreement on the score.

RIA Novosti has learned that during Mikhail Kasyanov's visit to Kharkov an agreement is expected to be signed between Russia and Ukraine on cooperation in the gas sphere up to the year 2013.

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