(Adds details, background)
MOSCOW May 16 Russia is ready to discuss a gas
price discount for Ukraine if Kiev pays off more than the $2.2
billion it owed as of April 1, Energy Minister Alexander Novak
said on Friday, as both sides seemed to edge toward a potential
"We will discuss this (lowering the rate Russia charges
Ukraine) if they pay even the debt owed on April 1, and this was
$2.237 billion," Novak said. Russia said Kiev's debt to
state-controlled Gazprom is now just over $3.5
Ukraine's deputy energy minister, Ihor Didenko, said on
Thursday Gazprom's price of $485 per 1,000 cubic metres was
monopolistic and unfair and that Kiev was working on proposals
to avoid the gas taps being switched off.
He said that if the price were to be fixed at $268.5 per
1,000 cubic metres Kiev would be prepared to pay around $4
billion before the end of May.
Russia has warned that it will not supply Ukraine with gas
in June unless Kiev pays in advance by June 2, raising fears
that deliveries to Europe could be affected.
Moscow has cut supplies to Ukraine during price disputes
twice in the past decade, leading to reductions in volumes
delivered to Europe, which gets about half its Russian gas via
transit nation Ukraine.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged European
leaders to do more to help Ukraine through its economic crisis
and to resolve the standoff over gas.
Gazprom is demanding a $1.66 billion pre-payment for June
deliveries, saying the neighbouring country had only half its
requirements in storage to ensure a trouble-free winter.
Gazprom said on Friday that exports to European consumer
nations via Ukraine remained stable, as they have so far during
mounting tensions between Moscow and Kiev - and Russia and the
West - since the ouster of a Moscow-friendly Ukrainian president
(Reporting by Olesya Astakhova and Katya Golubkova; Writing by
Katya Golubkova; Editing by Steve Guttreman and David Evans)