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...AND PUTS FORWARD ITS OWN CONCERNS. European Commission President Barroso told President Putin in Moscow on March 17 that the EU places great emphasis upon building up a "true partnership" in energy supplies in the wake of the recent Ukrainian gas crisis, "The Moscow Times" reported on March 20. The EU has long wanted Russia to sign its Energy Charter and open up Gazprom's monopoly of pipelines to private business (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 17, 2006). Putin's aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky said that Russia also expects long-term commitments and security guarantees from its customers. He added that "the most sustained attention was devoted to securing global energy security [and] strengthening and diversifying relations in the energy field between Russia and the EU. The Russian side emphasized that in many spheres -- but above all in terms of energy -- the EU is a key, longtime, high-priority partner. Russia intends in the future to fulfill its obligations in supplying energy resources to EU countries." Russian officials are concerned that the EU will try to limit its energy supplies from Russia in response to the Ukrainian gas crisis, the daily added. PM

TURKMENISTAN SLAMS UKRAINE 'DELAY' ON GAS DEBT. Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry has issued a press release criticizing Ukraine for delaying talks to settle the $158.9 million debt Turkmenistan says Ukraine owes for previous gas shipments, NewsCentralAsia reported on March 18. The ministry said that "the delay by the Ukrainian side in carrying out its debt obligations puts in doubt bilateral cooperation in the fuel and energy sphere," reported. The ministry said that a planned visit to Ashgabat by a Ukraine delegation on March 15-16 has been "postponed indefinitely." The ministry noted that the two sides signed a debt-settlement protocol when a Ukrainian delegation visited Turkmenistan on March 10-11 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 13, 2006). Meanwhile, Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov announced that Turkmenistan has not lived up to its supply obligations, reported on March 19. Plachkov said that Ukraine received no Turkmen gas in January-February, adding that Ukraine has paid Turkmenistan a total of $88 million in back payments for 2005 shipments and prepayment for 2006 shipments. Plachkov said that a Ukrainian delegation will travel to Turkmenistan at the end of the week to continue talks. DK

UKRAINIAN PREMIER SEES POST-ELECTION COOPERATION WITH HIS PREDECESSORS AS PROBLEMATIC. Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov said in a television interview on March 19 that it would be difficult for him to work in a government with former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych if such a scenario unfolds following the March 26 parliamentary elections, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "I am a disciplined man, I will work where the president will send me. But I'd rather go to the parliament," Yekhanurov said. Responding to a question about possible post-election cooperation with former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, Yekhanurov said: "I'd like people to understand her economic views. It is difficult for me as a professional economist to work with people who have no views." JM

MORE THAN 3,500 MONITORS TO WATCH OVER UKRAINIAN VOTE. Central Election Commission head Yaroslav Davydovych said on March 19 that 3,518 official international observers will monitor the March 26 parliamentary election in Ukraine, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Among the organizations sending observers are the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the European Parliament, the Commonwealth of Independent States' Interparliamentary Assembly Council, the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, the Ukrainian World Congress, and the International Union of Komsomol Organizations. JM