MOSCOW, March 6 Ukraine's state energy company
Naftogaz said on Thursday it had fully paid for January's
Russian gas supplies and is in talks with Gazprom on
settling other payments to safeguard gas deliveries, though it
has yet to pay off all debts.
The company, which did not reveal the payment size for
January, has outstanding debts for previous supplies. It has
also not paid for purchases in February.
Gazprom said on Wednesday that Ukraine's total debt for
Russian gas deliveries was nearing $2 billion and warned it
would increase prices for Kiev as of April.
"To secure stable gas supply under current contract with
Gazprom, the company would continue uninterrupted settlement of
payments for natural gas received in February," Naftogaz said.
Gazprom has stepped up the pressure on Naftogaz amid the
political stand-off between Russia and the West over Ukraine
where the Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukovich was ousted from
presidency after violent street protests.
In a dramatic escalation of the conflict, the parliament of
Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, which has an ethnic Russian
majority, voted on Thursday to become part of Russia.
Gazprom, which ships over half of its gas to Europe via
Ukraine, declined to comment on the Naftogaz statement.