The announcement comes as fears of a Russian invasion have soared after reports that up to 150,000 troops are stationed at the Russia-Ukraine border. The threats of an attack sparked fears that Russia may cut off Europe’s gas, of which it supplies around 40 percent through its vast network of pipelines, several of which flows through Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine also signed a five-year transit deal in December 2019 for Moscow to send 65 bcm of gas via Ukraine in 2020 and 40 bcm annually from 2021 to 2024.
But now, Ukraine is ready to disconnect from Russia amid the soaring tension.
Prime Minister Denis Shmygal said: “Technically, we are almost 100 percent ready for Ukraine to join the European energy network in 2023.
“World Bank experts have estimated the benefits of synchronisation with ENTSO-E at $1.5billion (£1.1billion) annually for our country.”
He made clear that from February 24 to 26, Ukraine will be ready to disconnect from the energy systems of both Russia and Belarus (a Russian ally) so it can test the new isolated system.
The Ukrainian Prime Minister also claimed that the move would boost Europe’s energy security.
This comes after Russia was accused of deliberately withholding gas from Europe, sending prices skyrocketing to record highs across the continent.
In fact, Kremlin-controlled gas giant Gazprom has been diverting gas flow through the Yamal-Europe pipeline in reverse and away from the West since December.
This saw December prices surge to new records that surpassed even the record-breaking costs seen in October amid the crippling energy crisis.
But Russia has claimed that it has honoured all its long-term contracts and that blaming it for the energy crisis is wrong.
And there are fears that if Nord Stream 2 (NS2) gets approved, Mr Putin’s grip on the European energy market could grow even tighter.
This is the pipeline, yet to come online, that will transit gas from Russia to Germany, bypassing Ukraine and Poland.
The Kremlin claims that an operational NS2 would be able to double Europe’s supplies and could help to ease prices.
But Ukraine has not been shy to voice its opposition to the pipeline.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said after talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday: “We have certain disagreements in our assessments.
“We clearly understand that it is a geopolitical weapon.”
But Mr Scholz has declined to state whether he would abandon the project if Russia does invade Ukraine.
This is despite US President Joe Biden calling for it to be scrapped, a threat it claims gives the West “leverage” over Mr Putin.
Olexadnre Scherba, Chief advisor to the CEO of Ukraine gas giant Naftogaz told Express.co.uk: ”Once NS2 is certified and operational – Russia will be able to destroy Ukraine’s gas transportation system.
“To sum up, certifying NS2 makes aggression and war more possible and less costly for Putin.”
Russia has already threatened to slash Europe’s gas exported through its operational pipelines in response to “massive” sanctions threatened by the West.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters: “Any export curbs would result in rising prices. And if such restrictions are to be applied then increases in prices should largely offset such curbs.”