* Sanctions could hit 172 individuals, 65 Russian companies
* Ukraine wants new Russian gas transit contracts to Europe
* Brussels worried Ukraine's sanctions could hit its gas
(Adds new date for second reading of the vote)
By Pavel Polityuk and Barbara Lewis
KIEV/BRUSSELS, Aug 12 Ukraine's parliament
backed the first reading of a bill to impose sanctions on
Russian companies and individuals on Tuesday, a move that has
raised concern in Europe about energy supplies from Russia.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said last week
that the sanctions could be imposed against 172 citizens of
Russia and other countries and against 65 Russian companies,
including gas export giant Gazprom, "for financing
Ukraine said on Monday that European energy companies would
have to agree major contract revisions when purchasing Russian
natural gas if parliament approved imposing sanctions on Gazprom
. Parliament has scheduled a second
reading of the bill for Thursday.
Russia is Europe's biggest gas supplier, meeting almost a
third of the region's demand, around half of which flows to
European clients via Ukraine. European utility companies are
worried that Ukrainian sanctions could disrupt supplies during
the coming winter.
Ukraine's gas grid, Naftogaz, said on Monday that the
sanctions could limit or even exclude some companies from piping
gas through the country but did not refer directly to Gazprom.
It said this would allow other firms to take over transit
operations in Ukraine.
"The main idea is (that) transit could continue with no
problems if this gas is bought at our eastern border (with
Russia) by, let's say, European companies," a Naftogaz
spokeswoman told Reuters.
Current supply contracts with European utilities are for
delivery of Russian gas into the EU via Ukraine, with Naftogaz
receiving a transit fee.
The European Union said gas contracts may need to be
"We have raised the issue of the draft law again this
morning in a phone call with our Ukraine partners," European
Commission Vice-President Guenther Oettinger said. "We are
confident that Ukraine remains a reliable transit partner."
"Naftogaz's idea that European gas companies could buy
Russian gas at the Russian-Ukrainian border instead of getting
it delivered through Ukraine requires a renegotiation of the
transit contracts," Oettinger said.
"This cannot be done in the short term - it is a question
that would need to be discussed in a trilateral meeting between
the European Commission, the Russian Federation and Ukraine,"
Oettinger said, adding that the Commission was planning such a
meeting for early autumn.
Russian gas flows to Ukraine have been halted three times
over the past decade, affecting supplies to the European Union,
by contract and pricing disputes between Moscow and Kiev.
Russia halted gas supplies destined for Ukrainian customers
in June because of a row over pricing, but Russian gas transit
through Ukraine to Europe has been unaffected so far.
(Writing by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Richard
Balmforth/John Stonestreet/Susan Fenton/Larry King)