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Slovakia, Ukraine reach deal to help Kiev reduce reliance on Russia gas

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia--Slovakia and Ukraine have reached a deal to give Kiev access to European gas supplies and reduce its dependence on Russia, the Slovak economy ministry said Saturday.

“Both countries have successfully closed a deal that will help Ukraine get gas shipments,” Economy Minister Tomas Malatinsky said in a statement.

The deal, due to be inked on Monday, will allow suppliers from Europe to use Slovakia's old, unused “Vojany” pipeline to pump gas to Ukraine.

Ukraine has already struck similar deals with Hungary and Poland in a bid to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.

As an EU member and neighbor to Ukraine, Slovakia is ideally located to provide Kiev with European gas at a time when Moscow is threatening to cut off supplies.

The Vojany pipeline can be launched in October with an initial capacity of 3 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year, which could be increased to 10 bcm by March 2015, Eustream spokesman Vahram Chuguryam told AFP earlier this week.

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