MOSCOW May 17 Russia's Gazprom
assured European customers it would continue to supply their
gas, after its threat to halts supplies to transit nation
Ukraine next month over non-payment.
Any shortfall would be the fault of Ukraine, chief executive
Alexei Miller told Russian television. Moscow blamed theft by
Ukraine for a disruption to exports in a previous dispute.
Russia has warned that it will not supply Ukraine with gas
in June unless Kiev pays in advance $1.66 billion by June 2,
raising fears that gas piped to Europe through Ukraine could be
"Gazprom will simply supply Ukraine as much as gas as it
will have bought, and to the Russian border with Ukraine we will
send as much gas as Europe should get and Ukraine should
transit," Miller said in an interview on Rossiya-24 television.
"It would be our Ukrainian partners' responsibility for a
so-called unauthorised off-take. But Gazprom from its part will
do everything to ensure that European customers have no
problems," Miller told the news show Vesti.
Gazprom said on Friday that exports to Europe via Ukraine
remained stable, as they have so far during mounting tensions
between Moscow and Kiev - and Russia and the West - since the
removal of a Moscow-friendly Ukrainian president in February.
Previous disputes over gas have left Europe, which gets
around a third of its gas needs from Russia, with limited
supplies at the height of winter.
Ukraine, which owes Russia $3.5 billion for past gas
deliveries, wants to change the conditions of a 2009 contract
that locked Kiev into buying a set volume, whether it needs it
or not, at $485 per 1,000 cubic metres.
On Friday, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said
Russia was ready to discuss a discount if Kiev pays off more
than the $2.2 billion it owed as of April 1 in a sign the two
sides were edging toward a potential compromise.
(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, editing by William Hardy)