Ukraine hopes to reach a deal with Russia on cutting its natural gas imports from Moscow by up to a third this year, Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko said on Wednesday, according to RIA Novosti.

"We will purchase as much gas as our economy needs. If our partners have questions, they can solve them in a civilized way," Boyko told reporters.

Ukraine has long been seeking to alter the terms of the 2009 gas deal it signed with Russia. The deal ties the price of gas to oil prices, which have risen strongly since 2009, boosting Ukraine`s gas bill. Kiev insists on reducing both the price and volume of its gas imports.

Under the contract, Kiev must pay for at least 33 billion cu m of natural gas a year regardless of actual purchases. Ukraine bought 40 billion cu m of Russian gas in 2011. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said last September that the country had sent Russian gas giant Gazprom a request to buy only 27 billion cubic meters in 2012.

Boyko said Ukraine would continue the ongoing gas price talks between Moscow and Kiev until the two parties found a compromise.

"(The talks) will go on as long as necessary to find an acceptable solution for our economy and our national interests," the energy minister said.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on Wednesday that the year 2012 would be crucial for both countries to find a compromise on gas issues.

"The year 2012 will be decisive in solving the so-called gas issue. The Russian partners have no desire to adjust the terms of the notorious gas agreement. Russia will insist on maintaining the status quo to the last moment," Azarov said.