VIENNA, June 24 Russia's top gas producer
Gazprom on Tuesday stuck to its position that Ukraine
has to pay it almost $2 billion in outstanding payments before
Moscow will resume talks over new gas-supply terms.
Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission have held
several rounds of fruitless talks to solve a dispute over Kiev's
gas debts and the price that Russia charges it for gas supplies.
Last week, Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Ukraine, through
which Russia exports roughly half of its gas to the European
Union, after Kiev failed to meet a deadline to pay part of the
$4 billion which Moscow says Ukraine owes it for gas.
"Ukraine has to pay off the debts, ... the outstanding debt
for November and December is $1.451 billion. Ukraine also has to
show progress (over a $500 million payment) for April-May,"
Gazprom's Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller told reporters
in Vienna, where the state-controlled company finalised a deal
to build a branch of its South Stream gas pipeline to Austria.
The EU objects to the South Stream project, which is
designed to carry 63 billion cubic metres of Russian gas to
Europe via the bed of the Black Sea by 2019, saying it infringes
its regulations requiring third-party access to pipeline
Europe is worried about its dependence on Russian gas, which
accounts for around a third of EU imports, particularly after
Russian-Ukrainian gas disputes in 2005 and 2009 led to supply
disruptions. But the bloc has yet to come up with a realistic
(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin;
Editing by Alexander Winning and Keiron Henderson)