* Gazprom and Ukraine locked in gas price dispute
* Russian gas transit to Europe via Ukraine stable
(Adds detail, comments)
MOSCOW, April 8 Russian natural gas producer
Gazprom said on Tuesday Ukraine had failed to pay for
its March gas supplies on time but did not say whether the
company would take any action against Kiev.
"They haven't paid for March," a spokesman said, confirming
that Ukraine's total debt of $2.2 billion had not been reduced
by the deadline of midnight on Monday.
Gazprom has often in the past not taken any action when Kiev
failed to pay its bills on time. But it cut off gas supplies to
Ukraine during price disputes in the winters of 2008/2009 and
2005/2006, disrupting supplies of Russian gas to Europe that are
carried via Ukraine.
Gazprom said Russian gas transit via Ukraine to Europe
remained stable on Tuesday.
Ukraine's energy company, Naftogaz, declined immediate
comment. Later on Tuesday, EU officials were due to meet
Ukraine's energy minister in Brussels.
Relations between Kiev and Moscow have deteriorated since
parliament ousted Ukraine's Moscow-backed president on Feb. 22
following months of protests. Russian forces took over the
Crimea region and Moscow then annexed it on March 21.
Gazprom has almost doubled the gas price for Ukraine to $485
per 1,000 cubic metres, compared to the $370-$380 it charges
Europe on average. Ukraine says the new price is unacceptable
and is politically motivated.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Denis Pinchuk additional
reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Kiev, editing by Timothy