Beijing - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the 2009 Russian-Ukrainian natural gas agreements that were the alleged reason for Tuesday's sentence of seven years of jail for former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko were absolutely legal.
"Seven years is a special kind of figure. In itself it's a good figure. Though, to be honest, I can't quite understand why she got those seven years," Putin said in comments requested by reporters.
The Pechersky District Court in Kyiv declared Tymoshenko to be guilty of overstepping her powers by signing the 2009 deal, which was allegedly damaging to Ukraine.
Tymoshenko "is not a friend or relative for me," he said. "Moreover, she is rather a political opponent" because she "has always been a person of Western orientation."
"As for gas affairs, I'm not familiar with the indictment issued by court, I don't know what specifically is written there, but if one judges by media content, the reason for the guilty verdict were the gas contracts with Russia. Well, first of all, Tymoshenko didn't sign anything, the contracts were signed at the level of economic entities, Gazprom and [the national oil and gas company Naftogaz] of Ukraine," Putin said.
Yet "the main point is that those commercial contracts fully conform to Russian and Ukrainian laws and to international rules, international standards," he said.
Putin said the contracts were based on principles that underlay Gazprom's agreements with other European partners and prescribed the same price formula as that used in them.
"It's very important that, for the first time in many years," the two countries signed separate contracts on gas exports to Ukraine and on the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine to the European Union, he said.
He explained that Russian-Ukrainian gas disputes allegedly had nothing to do with gas transit to Europe.
"So I believe that it is dangerous and counterproductive to question this entire complex of agreements," he said.
In comments on Tymoshenko's pro-Western attitudes, Putin argued that Russia and Ukraine would be more competitive if they had closer mutual economic ties.
"That means bigger advantages. I'm not talking about politics, I'm talking about pure economic pragmatism, the economic side of the matter. But that is undoubtedly always the sovereign choice of the other side, Ukraine in this case. By the way, today's leadership, as we can hear from public speeches, in effect sticks to the same point of view, there's little that has changed there," Putin said.