Ukraine hopes to resume purchase of Turkmenistan gas in effort to reduce reliance on Russia

Ukraine's foreign minister says he hopes his country will resume purchasing natural gas from the energy-rich Turkmenistan, thereby reducing its heavy reliance on Russian supplies.

Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhary said during a visit to the Central Asian nation Wednesday that Ukraine regretted its failure to preserve energy ties.

Up until 2006, Turkmenistan supplied Ukraine with 36 billion cubic meters of gas annually. Ukraine paid for the fuel in cash and goods.

Kozhary said assistance would be sought from Russia, through which Turkmen gas must transit to reach Ukraine, in reaching a new arrangement. Russia also buys gas from Turkmenistan, but spare pipeline capacity has been created due to flagging demand from Moscow.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is expected to visit Turkmenistan next month for talks likely to focus on energy.