Russia will almost double the price it charges Ukraine for natural gas supplies from January 1, 2009, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday following a meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko, ITAR-TASS reported.

"This decision stipulates switching to market prices," he said. "The (gas) price for Ukraine will almost double due to this."

Yushchenko has agreed on switching to market prices as soon as possible, he said.

At present, Gazprom Export, a subsidiary of Russian gas giant Gazprom, supplies Central Asian gas to Gazprom affiliate RosUkrEnergo, which sells the gas to Ukrainian oil and gas company Naftogaz Ukrainy at a price of $179.5 per 1,000 cubic meters.

In March, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan announced they would raise their gas prices to European levels starting from 2009.

Prime TASS