Germany calls on Gazprom, Ukraine's Naftogaz to settle dispute

BERLIN, March 5 (Reuters) - Germany is concerned at reports that Russia’s Gazprom will cancel its gas supply contract with Ukraine’s Naftogaz, a government spokesman said on Monday, urging the companies to settle their dispute.

Spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular news conference that the two companies should comply with a Stockholm arbitration court’s award of more than $2.5 billion to Naftogaz, which prompted Gazprom to cut supplies to Ukraine.

“It is in the interest of Germany and the European Union, and of Russia and Ukraine, that both these countries show themselves to be reliable partners in European gas supply and guarantee continuous supplies,” Seibert said.

He repeated the German government’s view that a planned new gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea was a “purely commercial project”, but added that, even though the new pipeline will bypass Ukraine, “it is in the interest of Germany and Europe that Ukraine continues to play a role as a transit country for Russian gas.” (Reporting by Thomas Escritt Editing by Michael Nienaber)