The price Ukraine is due to pay for Russian-supplied natural gas in 2009 should be agreed within a month, Ukraine`s prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, said on Friday, according to RIA Novosti.

"To be able to fix the price, agreements with the Central Asian states need to be completed," Tymoshenko told a news conference following gas talks in Moscow on Thursday. "The Russian Federation has not finalized the agreements so far. We believe they will be finalized within a month."

Ukraine primarily receives Turkmen gas pumped across Russia. Producers in former Soviet Central Asia have announced plans to raise prices to European levels. Russia`s energy giant Gazprom earlier said prices for Ukraine could rise to $400 from next year. In 2008, Ukraine has paid $179.5 per 1,000 cu m for Russian supplies.

Tymoshenko declined to give any details on prices, but reiterated that Russia and Ukraine will switch to market gas prices, which are due to reach $500 per 1,000 cu m for European customers, over the next three years.

"We have agreed and fixed this [in a memorandum] that Ukraine will move to the market price within three years, not from January 1," Tymoshenko said, adding Ukraine will increase its transit fees accordingly.

Gas pricing has been a thorny issue that triggered bitter rows between the two former Soviet republics in recent years.

Tymoshenko and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also agreed on Thursday to remove intermediary traders from the supply scheme.

The countries are switching to direct ties in the gas sector, involving Russia`s state-controlled energy giant Gazprom and Ukraine`s national Naftogaz, which also receives the right to re-export gas to Europe jointly with Gazprom.

The current supply scheme involves the Swiss trader RosUkrEnergo, in which Gazprom holds 50%.

RIA Novosti