* Ukraine and Russia try to end gas price dispute
* Ukraine signals no change in stance at talks
(Adds energy minister)
By Natalia Zinets
KIEV, June 11 Ukraine said on Wednesday it had
rejected a Russian proposal that would reduce the price it pays
Moscow for natural gas by more than 20 percent and ruled out
paying its gas debts until a pricing deal is reached.
Remarks by the prime minister and energy minister made clear
Kiev was not changing its stance at talks with Moscow, despite
the threat of Russia cutting supplies to Ukraine if no deal is
reached - a scenario that could disrupt deliveries to Europe.
The dispute is at the heart of a crisis between Moscow and
Kiev, and failing to resolve it would set back peace moves after
weeks of violence in eastern Ukraine, where separatists are
demanding unification with Russia.
Briefing his cabinet, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said
Ukraine was holding out for changes in state gas company
Naftogaz's contract with Russian exporter Gazprom and
demanded to pay the market price for gas.
Russia has floated the idea of scrapping its export duty for
gas exports to Ukraine - $100 per 1,000 cubic metres, introduced
after Moscow annexed Crimea - to reduce the price.
"Russia has offered us a gas price cut of $100," Yatseniuk
said in televised comments. "Our position remains the same: we
rewrite the contract and get the market price."
Ukraine wants to change the 2009 contract that locked it
into buying a set volume of gas, whether it needs it or not, at
$485 per 1,000 cubic metres - the highest price paid by any
customer in Europe.
Russia and Ukraine were due to resume talks in Brussels on
Wednesday after eight hours of negotiations, which ended around
3 a.m. (0100 GMT) on Tuesday, failed to overcome differences
Asked whether Kiev would pay off the billions of dollars it
owes Gazprom, Energy Minister Yuri Prodan told Interfax-Ukraine
news agency in Brussels: "No, not until an overall agreement is
Gazprom said it had moved a deadline for Ukraine to start
paying in advance for its gas supplies to next Monday, an
extension of almost a week.
If supplies are cut to Ukraine, there could be disruptions
to deliveries to the European Union. The EU gets about a third
of its gas imports from Russia and around half of this is
received through pipelines that cross Ukraine.
(Additional reporting by Lidia Kelly in Moscow, Editing by