(Bloomberg) -- Moldova and Ukraine reached an informal agreement to keep natural gas flowing to the pro-Russian enclave of Transnistria after a transit contract with Gazprom PJSC expires at the end of the year.

Under the preliminary deal, a new route via Turkey is a viable option for getting Russian gas to Transnistria, the separatist region in eastern Moldova on the border of Ukraine, Moldovan Energy Minister Victor Parlicov said in an interview. Ukraine is closing its territory to Russian gas transit on Jan. 1, 2025.

The arrangement comes as energy traders are watching how the end of Russian gas flows through Ukraine will affect Europe next winter. Allowing supplies to Transnistria may provide some encouragement that Ukraine transit deals with other countries might still be possible.

Ukraine’s gas network operator in April rejected the renewal of interconnector agreements that would allow Russian gas to transit through the main cross-border point, Sudzha, next year. In the Moldova-Ukraine agreement, Gazprom could deliver the gas to Turkey and then via Bulgaria and Romania, but it would still have to go through Ukraine because of the design of the pipeline. 

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After the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Moldova gave up Russian gas, buying exclusively on the European market. But Gazprom continues to supply fuel to Transnistria, which provides Moldova with most of its electricity. 

Still at question is who will bear the cost, and whether Gazprom will pay the transit fees or if it refuses and stops supplying Transnistria when its agreement ends at the end of 2025, Parlicov said. The electricity contract with Moldova is the enclave’s biggest source of income.

“We will not obstruct this transit, because we do not want to create a crisis in the region, especially since this crisis immediately becomes the problem of the whole of Moldova,” he said. “But we won’t act as a governmental guarantor for any gas contract.” 

--With assistance from Priscila Azevedo Rocha.

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