The Ukrainian government is seeking to diversify its energy sources to reduce dependence on Russian gas, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Thursday, according to Xinhua.

"We have to do it. It`s not our choice," Azarov told the state-run First National TV channel. But he added that alternative sources could not fully replace Russian gas supplies.

Azarov said steps to promote energy independence would include increasing coal`s share in the county`s energy mix and developing domestic shale gas production.

Earlier, the Ukrainian energy giant Naftogaz said Ukraine plans to purchase natural gas from Germany`s RWE energy company in an attempt to reduce dependence on Russian gas.

To ease Ukraine`s financial burden, Kiev has been seeking to slash natural gas imports from Russia, an intention that Moscow said violates their energy deal signed in 2009.

Under the contract between Ukrainian state-run Naftogaz and Russian gas giant Gazprom in 2009, Ukraine agreed to buy 52 billion cubic meters of gas per year or pay for a minimum of 80 percent of that volume, regardless of the actual amount taken.

Kiev has been negotiating for more than a year for lower prices for Russian gas, which cost 416 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic meters in the first quarter of 2012.