RUSSIA CHARGES UKRAINE
Two further rounds of talks on energy security between the European Union, Ukraine and Russia will be held during May, the European Commission confirmed Tuesday.
The three sides held a first, joint meeting last Friday in Warsaw, Poland, to discuss Ukraine's gas debts to Russia—now estimated at more than $3.5 billion—and concerns about disruptions of gas supplies to Europe.
"We're holding these further meetings to find a solution to Ukraine's debts," said Sabine Berger, a European Commission spokeswoman. No further details about the dates or location of the talks were given.
She said the three sides had "until the end of the month to resolve the issue", adding that the commission wasn't worried that Russian gas supplies to Ukraine could be disrupted in the meantime.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, his Ukrainian counterpart Yury Prodan and the EU's energy chief, Günther Oettinger, said on Friday they would come up with measures by the end of May to address Ukraine's energy debts.
But Mr. Novak said that Russian state-owned gas monopoly, OAO Gazprom, would ask that deliveries scheduled in June be paid for upfront unless Ukraine started repaying some of its debts by May 16, a move that could result in supplies being disrupted, he said.
Last month, Russia nearly doubled what it charges Ukraine to $485.50 per 1,000 cubic meters from $268.50 per 1,000 cubic meters. Kiev has said it isn't ready to pay the price demanded by Gazprom, which supplies about 30% of Europe's gas. Around half of those supplies transit through Ukraine.
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