(Adds details, background)
MOSCOW May 28 Ukraine will owe Russia about
$5.2 billion for natural gas as of June 7 if it makes no
payments by that date, the CEO of state-controlled Russian gas
exporter Gazprom, Alexei Miller, said on Wednesday.
Gazprom says Ukraine now owes more than $3.5 billion, and
has threatened to stop supplying the neighbouring former Soviet
republic with gas if it fails to make a pre-payment for June
supplies by June 2.
Miller told President Vladimir Putin that Ukraine would
consume a total of 3.5 billion cubic metres of Russian gas in
May worth around $1.7 billion, increasing Kiev's gas debt.
"Thus, by June 7, Ukraine's obligations for gas payments
will top $5.2 billion," Miller told Putin, repeating Gazprom's
position that it will supply as much gas as Ukraine pays for.
Putin responded by saying he hoped "we will not reach a
situation when we will have to switch to prepayment".
Russia and Ukraine are fighting over gas prices, with Kiev
wanting to change a 2009 contract that locked it into buying a
set volume of gas, whether it needs it or not, at $485 per 1,000
cubic metres - the highest price paid by any client in Europe.
Moscow dropped the price to $268.50 after Ukraine's
then-President Viktor Yanukovich turned his back on a trade and
association agreement with the European Union last year, but
reinstated the original price after he was ousted in February.
(Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya; Writing by Steve Gutterman and
Katya Golubkova, editing by Elizabeth Piper)