MOSCOW, June 16 (RIA Novosti) — Russia sees no need for now to hold trilateral gas talks because of the non-constructive position of Kiev, but confirms to be open to dialogue, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Monday.
“As far as further consultations are concerned, we have at first taken the [following] position: we will be ready to continue the negotiations if the bills for gas supplies are paid, this was one of the conditions for us [continuing] the consultations, but unfortunately it was fulfilled partially,” Novak said.
“If the $4.5 billion debt is paid we will be able to return to consultations,” Novak said.
Russia’s Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said that there was nothing to discuss at a new round of the three-party gas talks involving Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission.
“The subject [of discussions] for these consultations has vanished,” Miller said.
Novak said Russia was in telephone talks with the European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger and was open to dialogue after the debt pay-off.
He said Ukraine had two choices to challenge the current contract, which is in effect for the next five years -through talks or via arbitration court.
Both companies have so far chosen the latter: Gazprom has filed a suit in the Stockholm Arbitration Court over Naftogaz’ debt, and in retaliation, Ukrainian counterpart filed a lawsuit with the same arbitration court to review the 2009 bilateral gas contract.
Ukraine’s gas debt to Russia has been building up since 2013 as the country found itself amid deep political crisis and continues to accumulate at a rate of $1 billion per month.
Ukraine has been driving a hard bargain in its dispute with Russia, pressing for a price of $268.5 per 1,000 cubic meters, although the Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan said earlier it was ready to compromise at $326.
On Monday, Russian gas giant Gazprom switched to advance payment scheme for gas deliveries because of Ukraine’s debt and blackmail during the negotiations. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yatsenyuk had earlier instructed the government and Naftogaz to prepare for cuts of Russian gas deliveries.