(Adds quotes, material from Russia-Gazprom/Ukraine)
By Steve Gutterman
MOSCOW May 12 Russia on Monday reiterated its
threat to stop supplying Ukraine with natural gas if Kiev does
not pay in advance for June deliveries, and said further talks
on the issue were also contingent on payment.
Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said the
state-controlled Russian company will present Ukraine's state
energy company Naftogaz with a "preliminary" bill for June on
Tuesday, demanding payment by June 2, Russian news agencies
"If Ukraine does not pay for June supplies, Gazprom will, by
10am (0600 GMT) on June 3, inform the Ukrainian side what amount
of gas will be supplied in accordance with the pre-payment,"
Itar-Tass quoted Miller as saying.
He said the amount of gas to be supplied would be zero if no
payment is made, the report said.
Gazprom says Ukraine owes it $3.51 billion and has warned in
recent weeks that it would demand pre-payment for gas from next
month. The Energy Ministry had previously said the deadline for
payment was May 31.
President Vladimir Putin, locked in a standoff with the West
over Ukraine's future after annexing its Crimea region, warned
European gas customers last month that deliveries could be
disrupted if Gazprom cut supplies to transit nation Ukraine.
At a meeting with Miller and Energy Minister Alexander
Novak, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Ukraine has
money it can use to pay for gas and European nations should
press Kiev to pay, Itar-Tass reported.
"We are within our rights to count on our European partners
to send a signal to the Ukrainian leadership that they ought to
pay their debts," Itar-Tass quoted Medvedev say saying.
Twice in the past decade, price disputes between Moscow and
Kiev have led to reduced supplies of Russian gas to European
clients via Ukraine, a conduit for about half the gas Europe
imports from Russia.
Ukraine 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 - the highest price paid
by any client in Europe.
Putin gave Ukraine a discount last year after then-President
Viktor Yanukovich spurned landmark deals with the EU, but Russia
jacked up the price again after Yanukovich's turn towards Moscow
led to his ouster at the hands of pro-Western protesters.
Russia will be ready to hold more talks with Ukraine on its
gas supplies only when Kiev pays off its debt, Russian Deputy
Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky said earlier on Monday.
"We want contract liabilities to be fulfilled... To continue
talks, the debt should be paid," Yanovsky told reporters.
(Additional reporting by Katya Golubkova; Editing by David
Goodman and David Evans)