Russia 's Medvedev offers to rewrite energy rules


Russia was set to release proposals for new rules on global energy cooperation Monday, President Dmitry Medvedev said, replacing a 1991 energy treaty rejected by Moscow .

The announcement of the ambitious plan was the latest sign of Moscow 's increasingly assertive bids to revive its influence in the world.

"I will distribute today a document among our partners at the G8, the G20 of the largest economies, our partners from the CIS, our nearest neighbours," Medvedev said at a joint news conference with Finnish President Tarja Halonen.

Medvedev described the proposals as a "basic document which defines issues of cooperation in the sphere of energy, including proposals on a transit agreement."

Although Russia signed the 1991 Energy Charter it refused to ratify it, saying it was out of sync with reality and did not include many of the world's major energy nations.

"Our task today is to maintain, or rather ensure for the future, the balance of producers of energy resources, transit states and consumers of energy resources," Medvedev said.

"That is exactly what our proposals are aimed at."

The most recent energy 'transit crisis' highlighted the need to work out a new framework for cooperation in energy, said Medvedev. He was keen for the talks to start shortly, he added.

In January, a bitter payment dispute between Moscow and Kiev led to a cut-off of Russian gas exports through Ukraine to downstream customers.

That left millions of Europeans without gas in the middle of winter and triggered the European Union's worst-ever energy crisis.

Medvedev's top economic aide Arkady Dvorkovich, speaking to Russian reporters, said Moscow was proposing a document that would "essentially replace the Energy Charter", but was flexible on its legal format.

"We are offering a new fully-fledged legal base for future energy cooperation."

More importantly, Dvorkovich said, the new document should also cover nuclear energy in addition to conventional energy.

"We are talking not only about gas or oil, but also about all energy products, including nuclear fuel, electricity, coal and the rest of the goods in which we trade, in which countries in the energy sphere trade," he said.

Dvorkovich added that "despite the many discussions and even promises, the current international legislation did not cover nuclear energy."

The current energy charter was adopted in 1991 and signed by 49 countries and the European Union.

But Dvorkovich noted that it didn't include some of the most important energy players such as the United States , China , India and Norway .

Dvorkovich said Russia was ready for talks about its proposals on all levels in the coming weeks, noting that Finland , which hosted Medvedev for his state visit to the country, had been the first to receive the document.

It was to early to say whether Russia already had any support for its proposals as the document was just about to be sent, Dvorkovich added.

A senior official at the Finnish foreign ministry also said it was too early to comment, as officials had not read the proposals yet.

The West has repeatedly accused Russia of using its vast energy resources to promote its political agenda.

Dvorkovich said European countries appeared increasingly open to talks on the energy framework but conceded the European Union would need to undergo "significant internal work."

Buoyed by high oil and gas prices, Russia has been keen to assert its influence in the world under the presidency of Medvedev's predecessor Vladimir Putin, calling to rewrite the rules on energy and European security.

Medvedev reiterated his proposal for a new European security architecture as he spoke at the University of Helsinki to students and top businessmen.

"Whichever alliances, whichever agreements we enter, they don't insure against the problems," he said in clear reference to NATO, adding that a new international security alliance was needed that would include all.

"The best - or rather the worst - proof to that are the regional conflicts."

Russia fought a brief war with Georgia in August.