ST. PETERSBURG, May 23 (RIA Novosti) – Russian authorities hope to reach an agreement with Ukraine on natural gas regardless of the fact that Kiev is refusing to pay its debt, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday.
“We hope, I repeat, that we are somehow able to agree. It’s like saying in a family circle: well, fine, they want discounts, then you pay your debts even just for that period when the discounts were in effect. And that one refuses to pay. Hey, listen, how does that work?” Putin said.
Last week, Ukraine and the European Commission confirmed Kiev’s debt for Russian gas stands at $2.2 billion as of April 1, but no payments from Kiev followed.
Following a regime change in Ukraine in late February, Russia’s Gazprom made a decision to cancel two discounts earlier granted to the country, raising the price of Russian gas for Ukraine from $268.50 to $485 per thousand cubic meters.
Kiev’s debt prompted Moscow to switch to a prepayment plan for gas and Russian energy giant Gazprom has already billed Ukraine’s Naftogaz for June deliveries. If that payment is not made by June 3, Gazprom will shut off deliveries to Ukraine.
Andrei Kobolev, Chairman of the Board of Ukraine’s Naftogaz, said early this month that the company is ready to take Gazprom to court in Stockholm if Russia does not agree to revise the contract price, comments echoed by interim Prime Minister Yatsenyuk who also voiced plans to sue Gazprom.
Yatsenyuk said earlier this week Kiev was ready to pay off its debt if Russia agreed to sell gas at the old price.