March 6, 2014 / 1:40 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Ukraine's Naftogaz says paid for January Russian gas supplies

MOSCOW, March 6 (Reuters) - Ukraine’s state energy company Naftogaz said on Thursday it had fully paid for January’s Russian gas supplies and is in talks with Gazprom on settling other payments to safeguard gas deliveries, though it has yet to pay off all debts.

The company, which did not reveal the payment size for January, has outstanding debts for previous supplies. It has also not paid for purchases in February.

Gazprom said on Wednesday that Ukraine’s total debt for Russian gas deliveries was nearing $2 billion and warned it would increase prices for Kiev as of April.

“To secure stable gas supply under current contract with Gazprom, the company would continue uninterrupted settlement of payments for natural gas received in February,” Naftogaz said.

Gazprom has stepped up the pressure on Naftogaz amid the political stand-off between Russia and the West over Ukraine where the Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukovich was ousted from presidency after violent street protests.

In a dramatic escalation of the conflict, the parliament of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, which has an ethnic Russian majority, voted on Thursday to become part of Russia.

Gazprom, which ships over half of its gas to Europe via Ukraine, declined to comment on the Naftogaz statement.

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