Ukrainian Delegation to Visit Moscow to Discuss Gas Debt

KIEV, April 1 (RIA Novosti) – A Ukrainian delegation plans to visit Moscow on Thursday to hold talks on the country’s $1.7 billion debt for natural gas owed to Russia’s Gazprom, Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan said Tuesday.

“Our delegation will arrive in Moscow on Thursday and will discuss the issue,” Prodan said.

The minister earlier announced a meeting this week between the new head of Ukraine state gas company Naftogaz, Andriy Kobolyov, and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, saying that Kiev plans to discuss the price for imported gas, as well as the payment for the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine to Europe.

Gazprom announced on Tuesday that Ukraine will pay $385.5 per 1,000 cubic meters of Russian gas starting from April 1, up $117 from the current price. The Russian company cancelled its discount for Ukraine because Kiev already owes Russia $1.7 million in arrears and had failed to pay for the current supplies in advance.

Another discount on natural gas to Ukraine was also canceled on Tuesday, part of a former deal providing for the basing of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, which is now Russian territory.

The fleet is headquartered at Sevastopol, a city with a special status within Crimea. As part of the agreements on its basing rights, Russia paid the Ukrainian government $530 million annually for the base, wrote off nearly $100 million of Kiev’s debt for the right to use Ukrainian waters and offered Kiev a discount of $100 per each 1,000 cubic meters of gas.

The reunification of Crimea with Russia was finalized last month, making the set of agreements redundant.

With these two discounts cancelled, Ukraine will have to pay Russia nearly $500 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas. An average price for the European Union is about $380, according to Russian experts.

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