MOSCOW, February 3 (RIA Novosti) – Crisis-hit Ukraine currently owes Russia about $3.35 billion in unpaid natural gas bills and is falling behind with repayments despite a large discount on the fuel granted by Moscow last year, Vedomosti business daily reported Monday.
The former Soviet nation is unlikely to pay Russia’s state-owned Gazprom on time for the $650 million worth of gas it imported in January, Vedomosti cited President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman as saying.
Russia agreed to slash the gas price in a December bailout seen as a political reward for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych after he backed away from integration agreements with the EU to instead cement closer ties with Russia.
Ukraine is currently in the throes of a political crisis as anti-government street demonstrations continue. The dissolution of the Ukrainian government last week was widely seen as a concession to protesters.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said last week that Ukraine’s continuing failure to pay for gas on time “really changes the situation.” Putin said Russia would withold the rest of the financial aid package promised to Ukraine until the composition of the new government is clear.
In 2013 Ukraine bought 13 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia and underpaid by $2.7 billion, Vedomosti cited a Gazprom representative as saying.