by Yan Lei
BRUSSELS, May 7 (Xinhua) -- The crisis in Ukraine may result in possible changes in Russia's energy export landscape especially in Europe and Asia. However, a top Russian official told Xinhua that Russia would not abandon traditional energy partners and seek to diversify its export market.
Russia is willing to diversify its export energy markets while not abandoning trade relations with traditional partners, Russian ambassador to the European Union (EU) Vladimir Chizhov told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.
"In times of globalization of economic interaction, all countries strive to diversify their trade. The energy sector doesn't escape this trend," said Chizhov.
"The EU, for example, pursues diversification of routes and sources of energy commodities," he added.
The recent crisis in Ukraine has led to mounting worries over the trade relationship between EU and Russia, especially in the energy sector.
Russia supplies about a quarter of Europe's gas needs, with most of the supplies passing through transit pipelines in Ukraine.
Chizhov stressed that Russia would maintain its cooperation with major trade partners such as the EU. "While seeking new possibilities to develop cooperation in the energy sphere with a wider range of international partners, Russia doesn't intend to abandon its trade relations with traditional partners," he said.
Chizhov's words seemed to match the EU official's stance on the issue. "Gazprom and Russia are partners of the EU, and this partnership must continue and will continue," the European Commissioner for Energy Guenther Oettinger said last month, adding, "we began the partnership in the 1960s, during the Cold War, received gas and paid for it, but there is a need to diversify."
Addressing concerns over the price of supplied gas, Chizhov explained price negotiations were driven by commercial bodies, not influenced by government.
"Price issues, along with other commercial terms and conditions of the contract, are negotiated by commercial entities. These negotiations result in individual bilateral contracts. The Russian government does not interfere in these negotiations, and I certainly would refrain from advising either side on this issue," Chizhov said.
The ambassador underlined it was Russia's duty to secure the safety of a joint project on infrastructure for energy transportation with China.
Chizhov said that work on the "power of Siberia" pipeline and the Chinese construction of a 25 meter-deep port in Crimea were proceeding as per normal despite the Ukraine crisis.
Chizhov told Xinhua that Russia has tasked the ministry of transport of Russia to elaborate on proposals for further development of port facilities in Crimea, taking due account of existing plans to develop port facilities in the Black Sea/Azov Sea basin.
"The future of the deep water port project in Crimea will be considered in the context of this assignment," he said.