Kiev Could Facilitate Dialogue With Moscow by Paying Gas Debt – Putin

ST. PETERSBURG, May 23 (RIA Novosti) – Kiev could create favorable conditions for dialogue with Moscow by paying its debt for gas supplies, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during the plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday.

“… They [Kiev] owe us $3.5 billion. Let them pay the debt as a first step in order to create favorable conditions,” Putin said.

Kiev’s debt for Russian gas deliveries has reached $3.5 billion as of the end of April. Russia has decided to switch to a prepayment scheme due to the outstanding bills, in full accordance with the countries’ contract. Following the decision, Gazprom prepared an advance bill for Ukraine’s Naftogaz for June deliveries. In case of non-payment, Russia can suspend the gas supply to Ukraine starting June 3.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said earlier this week that as a precondition for negotiations on gas prices Ukraine must first pay a “substantial sum that would clearly indicate their intention to pay their debts.”

Following a regime change in Ukraine in late February, Russia’s Gazprom made a decision to cancel two discounts earlier granted to the country, thus raising the price of Russian gas for Ukraine from $268.50 to $485 per thousand cubic meters. Acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk announced that Kiev was ready to pay off its debt if Russia agreed to sell gas at the old price of $268 per thousand cubic meters.

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