The US welcomed news of an EU-brokered gas deal between Russia and Ukraine that will secure gas to Ukraine and ultimately the rest of Europe through the upcoming winter.
"The agreement is positive," affirmed State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki to reporters Friday.
Psaki also expressed "grave concerns that separatists plan to go ahead with illegitimate and illegal elections in areas of eastern Ukraine on Sunday. The United States will not recognize the results." She added that the elections violate the Minsk cease-fire agreement and for, all nations to similarly reject the illegal effort and instead support the legal December 7th local elections." The gas agreement consists of two documents: A binding protocol, signed by the European Commission, Russia and Ukraine and an addendum to the existing gas supply contract, signed by Gazprom of Russia and Naftogaz of Ukraine.
The package covers the period from now until the end of March 2015.
It stipulates that the Ukraine would settle its debts based on a preliminary price of USD 268,500 per 1,000 cubic meter by making payments in two tranches; USD 1.45 billion without delay, and USD 1.65 billion by the end of 2014. This adds in total up to USD 3.1 billion of debt payment.
The final price and thus the final sum of debt will be determined through the pending arbitration by the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce between Gazprom and Naftogaz.
The agreement also stipulates that Russia will deliver gas following advanced, monthly payments by Ukraine, which is free to order as much gas as it needs and is not subject to take-or-pay obligations foreseen in the current contract.