Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, taking advantage of a warmer political climate in Ukraine, on Friday proposed a surprise merger of Russia's gas giant Gazprom with Ukraine's energy company Naftogaz.
Earlier, the head of Russia's state nuclear corporation Sergei Kiriyenko said both countries were considering creating a joint venture to implement nuclear power projects.
"We spoke about integration in the nuclear sphere. We are ready to do the same in gas. I propose to merge Gazprom and Naftogaz of Ukraine," Putin told a meeting of the Russia-Ukraine inter-governmental committee.
His comments appeared to take many by surprise.
A spokesman for Ukraine's Prime Minister described Putin's comments as "impromptu".
Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told a Moscow radio station that Putin's proposal was "interesting" and Gazprom was ready "to work on it".
"Obviously, the synergy effect is there, how it will be realised we will see", he said.
Putin also said that Russian bank VTB may issue a $500 million loan to Ukraine's government.
Gazprom's CEO Alexei Miller said the firm was ready to consider an asset swap with Naftogaz in business segments ranging from exploration to sales.
"In reality, that's the question of a merger of the two companies," he said.
ReutersLast Mod: 01 Mayıs 2010, 12:48