Ukraine has received a tangible form of help from the European Union when Slovakia finally opened a pipeline to deliver much needed essential gas to the war-torn country.
The reverse gas flows should be able to cover Ukraine's mid-term gas import needs, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said in a news conference on Tuesday at the pumping station near the Ukraine border.
The pipeline will carry gas from Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyiuk the gas from this specific pipeline could supply 20 per cent or a fifth of the country's needs.
Kyiv is currently grappling with gas supplies ahead of the winter after Russian company Gazprom on June 16 cut supplies as a result of the escalating tensions between the two countries.
Russia, Europe's biggest supplier of oil, coal and natural gas, supplied half of the 50 billion cubic metres of gas Ukraine that used in 2013. In cutting Ukraine's supplies in June, Russia defended it had to do it because the Kiev had not be paying its bills on time.
Vagram Chuguryan of Slovakia's national pipeline operator Eustream told RIA Novosti a total of 27 million cubic metres of gas will be supplied daily to Ukraine through the Vojany-Uzhgorod pipeline.
However, Chuguryan said the pipeline still needs some technical work and additional adjustments. Once these are done, Ukraine can expect Slovakia delivering a maximum supply capacity of about 10 billion cubic metres per year starting 2015.
He likewise hinted the figure could further be boosted to 25 billion cubic metres annually in the mid-term if Hungary and Poland would also open up their pipelines and deliver to Ukraine.
Among Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, it is Slovakia's gas pipeline that is nearest to Ukraine. It also has the biggest capacity among the three.
According to ITAR-TASS News Agency, the Vojany-Uzhgorod pipeline was built for the local power plant in the town of Vojany in the east of Slovakia. However, it was never put into operation.
This is not the first time Russia suspended gas deliveries to Ukraine. The first was in 2006, with a second in 2009.
Guenther Oettinger, EU energy commissioner, said there are six EU members that are wholly dependent on Russian gas. Four of those receive their gas direct without transit through Ukraine.