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Russia's Gazprom says Ukraine did not pay for gas on time

Source: Reuters - Tue, 8 Apr 2014 09:02 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Gazprom and Ukraine locked in gas price dispute

* Russian gas transit to Europe via Ukraine stable (Adds detail, comments)

MOSCOW, April 8 (Reuters) - 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 Heritage)

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