* Gazprom says Ukraine must pay $1.95 bln before Monday
* Says may boost gas flows to Europe via other routes
(Adds detail, quotes)
By Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW, June 12 Russian natural gas exporter
Gazprom will halt supplies to Ukraine if it fails to
pay off part of its gas debts by Monday, chief executive Alexei
Miller said on Thursday, raising fears of disruptions in gas
flows to Europe.
Miller said that if Ukraine failed to pay $1.95 billion to
Gazprom it would start requiring Kiev to pay in advance for
further shipments, and that if it did not receive any money at
all, it would cut off supplies.
A dispute over gas prices is central to Russia's crisis in
relations with Ukraine, which has led to the worst standoff with
the West since the end of the Cold War.
No agreement has been reached in several rounds of talks
brokered by the European Commission. As the latest talks hit an
impasse, Gazprom set June 16 as the deadline for Ukraine to pay
off part of its debt.
"If Ukraine pays for no (gas) volumes at all, it means that
... gas shipments to Ukraine will be zero," Miller said in
Moscow says Ukraine has piled up more than $4 billion in
debts to Gazprom, which also delivers gas to the EU, half of it
through pipelines that cross Ukraine.
Russia almost doubled the gas price for Ukraine to $485 per
1,000 cubic metres from April 1 after Ukraine's Moscow-leaning
president was toppled in February.
Ukraine wants Moscow to stick to the price of $268.5 agreed
for Kiev at the end of last year after ousted President Viktor
Yanukovich ditched plans to forge closer ties with the EU.
Moscow has offered to cut it to $385 by eliminating an
export duty of $100 per 1,000 cubic metres. This would be in
line with the last year's average price for Russian gas in
Europe of $387.
Russia supplied the EU and Turkey with 162 billion cubic
metres (bcm) of gas last year, a record high, meeting around a
third of gas demand in Europe. Around half of that went through
Russia's onward gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine were
interrupted during the winters of 2006 and 2009 because of
pricing spats with Kiev.
Miller said on Thursday Gazprom might boost gas supplies to
Europe via other routes, including the Nord Stream pipeline
through the Baltic Sea.
"We will do everything to provide uninterrupted gas supplies
to European consumers," he said.
However, Russia's ability to ship gas via Nord Stream is
limited because of EU regulations, which require third-parties
to also be given access to pipelines.
Russia built Nord Stream with a capacity of 55 bcm a year to
bypass transit countries, such as Ukraine. It plans to construct
a South Stream pipeline on the bed of the Black Sea to Bulgaria
and further up to Austria.
The European Commission has asked Sofia to suspend work on
South Stream pending a decision on whether the project complies
with EU law. Separately, Washington has warned that Bulgarian
companies working on the project could be hit by sanctions.
Miller said Bulgaria had not notified Gazprom of any
suspension of work on construction of the South Stream still
(Editing by Timothy Heritage and Mark Potter)