KIEV, June 15 Ukraine and Russia failed to hold
expected talks on a gas pricing dispute on Sunday morning,
despite a deadline for Kiev to pay a $1.95 billion debt by
Monday or have its gas supplies cut off.
Ukraine's Energy Ministry said it hoped the talks, being
mediated by the European Union's energy commissioner, would
resume later on Sunday but both sides said a time had not been
Halting deliveries to Kiev could disrupt the gas flow to the
EU, which receives gas via Ukraine, but prospects for a
breakthrough have been hit by armed clashes between government
forces and pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine.
Ukrainian and Russian officials failed to end the
long-running dispute at talks in Kiev on Saturday but Ukrainian
Energy Minister Yuri Prodan said after leaving the meeting that
the discussions would continue on Sunday morning.
A spokesman for Russian natural gas producer Gazprom
later said: "No time has been set for new talks."
Russia and Ukraine disagree how much Kiev should pay for the
natural gas it receives from Russia and Gazprom plans
to switch to an advance payment system if Kiev does not start
paying its bills.
Ukraine has accepted a European Commission compromise
proposal of $326 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas for an interim
period. Moscow has offered Kiev a $100 reduction to $385, around
the average amount paid by Russia's European clients.
Resolving the dispute and averting supply cuts could help
ease tension over the separatist rising in east Ukraine, which
Kiev blames on Moscow despite Russian denials that it is arming
Tensions are also high following Russia's annexation of
Crimea after Ukraine's Moscow-leaning president was ousted and
pro-Western leaders took over power.
(Reporting by Natalia Zinets and Pavel Polityuk, Editing by