(Adds quotes, background)
MOSCOW, Sept 3 Russia said on Wednesday it was
ready to renew gas talks with Kiev, but only if it paid its
debts, in a possible offer of dialogue after the two nations'
leaders said they had discussed steps towards peace in eastern
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, responding to a Ukrainian
proposal to pay seasonal prices for Russian gas, said Moscow
would resume supplies only if Kiev paid down its "astronomical
debts" and named a gas price well over that previously cited by
Earlier on Wednesday, Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny
Yatseniuk proposed paying Moscow $385 per 1,000 cubic meters
during the winter, and $300 in the low, summer season.
This price was dismissed by Medvedev, who said Ukraine
should pay an average gas price of over $385 per 1,000 cubic
meters - above the average price of $340 cited by Yatseniuk.
"We are ready to discuss the resumption of cooperation with
Ukraine in the gas sector," Medvedev said in a statement. But he
added that Russia would do so only if Kiev repaid "existing
debts, which have reached an astronomical figure."
His remarks came after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said they had
discussed possible peace measures to end the fighting between
government forces and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Russia cut off its exports to Ukraine in July in a dispute
over pricing. Commenting on his country's energy woes, Yatseniuk
said on Wednesday Ukraine needed to buy some 25 billion cubic
metres of natural gas to meet its annual needs.
(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel and Gareth Jones in Kiev,
Editing by Timothy Heritage and Ralph Boulton)