Russia wants Ukraine to repay $2.4 bln gas debt
Medvedev ordered Gazprom to ask Ukraine to pay back its gas debt
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has ordered gas export monopoly Gazprom to ask Ukraine to pay back its gas debt to Russia, which Gazprom estimates at $2.4 billion, local agencies reported on Thursday, Reuters reported.
"We need to fully clarify ourselves with Ukraine`s debt and recover it on a goodwill or compulsory basis. Because it is stated in the current legislation and within the frames of our bilateral relationships," Interfax quoted Medvedev as saying to Gazprom`s chief executive Alexei Miller at a meeting in the Kremlin.
Ukraine`s state energy firm Naftogaz said its debt to RosUkrEnergo, a Russian-Ukraine intermediary gas trader, co-owned by Gazprom, does not exceed $1.3 billion.
"Today our debt with all of the nuances taken into account is $1.26-$1.27 billion... We are buying all the gas from RosUkrEnergo, so we do not have any debts to Gazprom," Vladimir Trikolich told reporters.
Ukraine imports about 55 billion cubic metres of gas annually, buying most from RosUkrEnergo. Besides the trader, Gazprom`s Ukrainian unit has the right to supply no less than 7.5 billion cubic metres to Ukrainian consumers.
Russia and Ukraine, whose gas pricing disputes led to gas supply interruptions in the past, have repeatedly said they need to get rid of intermediaries in gas trade. Gazprom said last week it has agreed to directly supply Ukraine with a minimum of 55 bcm of Russian gas next year.
Gazprom has long said it wants to switch to market prices with ex-Soviet states and has previously indicated it could significantly increase the price for Ukraine, which at the moment pays $179.50 per 1,000 cubic metres.