President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia intends to continue natural gas shipments via Ukraine despite a planned second pipeline to Germany.
"We will continue gas shipments (via Ukraine) as long as they are economically justified," Putin said during a press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
For her part, Merkel said that "Ukraine's role as a transit country should be maintained and Germany is ready to play its role."
Russia's Gazprom plans to build a second pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany, called Nord Stream 2, that would give it more possibility to reduce transit of gas through Ukraine to Europe when it is finished in 2019.
Germany has supported the project, but Merkel last month shifted gears to say that Nord Stream could not go forward without guarantees for Ukraine.
Ukraine has so far rejected proposals from Gazprom that would reduce the volumes of gas shipped through the country.
Russia has previously shut off deliveries to Ukraine in pricing disputes, which disrupted supplies to several nations in Europe.
Merkel said that while Germany looks at Nord Stream 2 as a business project "there are other elements, so we need to think about guarantees for Ukraine".