(Adds quote, context)
MOSCOW, April 8 President Vladimir Putin will
meet senior Russian government officials on Wednesday to discuss
Russia's economic ties with Ukraine, including on energy, his
The spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, gave no further details.
State-controlled natural gas producer Gazprom says
Ukraine missed a deadline to pay its March gas bill by midnight
on Monday and owes the Russian company $2.2 billion.
"A meeting is planned with the leaders of the government to
discuss the extraordinary situation that has developed in
economic cooperation with Ukraine, including in ... energy
dialogue," Peskov said.
Gazprom has nearly doubled the price it charges Ukraine for
gas, to $485 per 1,000 cubic metres since President Viktor
Yanukovich was ousted by protesters in February and a
pro-Western government was installed.
Gazprom has not said whether it will punish Kiev for failing
to pay the March bill but has suggested previously that it might
ask Kiev to pay in advance for its gas if it fails to pay its
The Russian company halted deliveries to Ukraine during
price disputes in the winters of 2008-2009 and 2005-2006,
disrupting supplies to of Russian gas that is pipes to Europe
In December, Putin gave Ukraine a discount on gas and
promised a $15 billion bailout after Yanukovich spurned a trade
pact with the European Union and turned toward Russia. Russia,
whose annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region has badly hurt ties
with Kiev and the West, has since scrapped the gas discount and
halted the bailout.
(Reporting by Alexei Anischuk, Writing by Steve Gutterman,
Editing by Timothy Heritage)