MOSCOW, April 22 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will be forced to introduce an advance payment system for natural gas supplies headed to Ukraine if Kiev does not soon begin paying for the imports, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday.
“Most likely, if our partners are unable to start the payment process with Russia and to the main gas suppliers, we will be obliged to introduce an advance payment system,” Medvedev said.
He stressed that the current authorities in Kiev are continuing to use Russian gas without paying for it, in violation of agreements.
“We have a problem with them [Ukrainian partners], these problems did not arise today. Unfortunately, almost any Ukrainian leadership, no matter who the president or the prime minister was, has continued in the same line, the line of illegally using Russian gas,” Medvedev said.
Medvedev said that Russia is highly interested in the diversification of its gas deliveries as well as participating in projects in the Asia-Pacific region.
“I would like to confirm one more time that we have good trade with Europe, and we have full contracts with Europe, but we are interested in diversifying deliveries, and today, we are, more than ever, implementing all the decisions concerning gas and oil deliveries to the Asia-Pacific region, to China first of all, to Japan and other countries,” Medvedev said.
Russia has been subsidizing Ukraine’s economy through natural gas discounts since Ukraine emerged as an independent state in 1991. Under a number of agreements between the two countries, Ukraine received unprecedented privileges and discounts on the price of Russian gas. Over the past five years, Russia has supplied Ukraine with 147.2 billion cubic meters of gas.
While importing the Russian gas, Ukraine has systematically delayed payments. Russian President Vladimir Putin stated earlier this month that Ukraine owes Russia $17 billion in gas discounts and another $18.4 billion has been incurred as a minimal take-or-pay fine.