* Putin, Poroshenko, Barroso expected to meet face-to-face
* Ukraine-Russia gas pricing dispute has dragged on
(Adds background, quote)
BRUSSELS Aug 14 The presidents of Russia,
Ukraine and the European Commission have agreed to hold talks on
disputes over gas and an EU-Ukraine free trade agreement, in
parallel with efforts to stabilise the security situation in
Ukraine, the EU said on Thursday.
The talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin,
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and European Commission
President Jose Manuel Barroso are intended to be held in person,
a European Commission source said, but it is not yet clear where
Raising discussions of the disputes to the level of
presidents appeared to offer hope of a possible easing of
tensions over Ukraine, immersed in a crisis which has sent
relations between Russia and the West plummeting.
Barroso spoke to Putin by telephone on Thursday to discuss
ways to ease the crisis in Ukraine, the Commission said in a
"It was agreed to hold consultations between the presidents
of Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission on the issues
related with the implementation of the (EU-Ukraine) Association
Agreement as well as on the supply of gas, in parallel with the
efforts to stabilise the political and security situation.
"The concrete arrangements for these talks will be further
discussed through the appropriate diplomatic channels," the
A series of three-way talks over a gas dispute bringing
together the energy ministers of Ukraine and Russia and European
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger broke down in June,
prompting Gazprom to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine.
Since then, Oettinger has held bilateral talks with
Ukraine's energy minister and is scheduled to meet Russia's
energy minister on Aug. 29 to try to restart trilateral
discussions on resolving Russia's row with Ukraine over how much
it pays for its gas.
So far, the disruption of Ukraine's gas supplies has not had
an impact on EU consumers, but Ukraine is a transit route for
roughly half of the gas Russia ships to the European Union,
which relies on Moscow for about a third of its energy.
The EU has also held talks with Russia to try to calm
Kremlin fears over a wide-ranging free trade pact that Ukraine
has signed with the 28-nation EU which Russia says will be
harmful to its economy.
A tug of war between the EU and Russia over Ukraine has
contributed to a crisis over the former Soviet republic that
worsened when Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in March.
The EU has imposed sanctions on Russia over its annexation
of Crimea and support for pro-Moscow separatists battling
government forces in eastern Ukraine. Russia has responded by
banning imports of most food from the West.
(Reporting by Adrian Croft and Barbara Lewis; Editing by Robin