KIEV, November 15 (Itar-Tass) — Ukraine will benefit from the transition to rouble settlements for Russian natural gas supplies, the first Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk believes. “I think the rouble payments for natural gas will be beneficial for Ukraine. It is easier to collect roubles than dollars, it’s the first thing. Second, we can quicker accumulate foreign exchange reserves in dollars, in euros, and pay in roubles,” Kravchuk said on local television on Monday evening.
On November 2, Ukrainian Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Yuri Boiko said that Kiev could transfer to settlements with Gazprom for imported gas in Russian roubles already this month.
On October 26, Ukraine and Russia reached an agreement on the possibility of transferring to settlements in roubles for gas consumed by Ukraine. It was noted in the report of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) that “the reached agreements provide for the Ukrainian side a possibility to manoeuvre in making payments for imports, in particular, natural gas, as well as helps avoid fluctuations on the foreign exchange market in case of making payments with the Russian Federation subjects.”
Ukraine is planning to start paying for Russian natural gas in roubles from November or December, chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine Sergei Arbuzov said earlier. According to Arbuzov, there is a preliminary agreement on transfer to rouble-denominated settlements. He does not rule out that the "upcoming payment for the supplies of natural gas in October" might be effected in roubles, but most likely, rouble-denominated payments for gas will begin in December. The National Bank chairman explained that the contracts with Russia would not be amended due to the plans to transfer to rouble payment and that the parties would only sign addenda to the document.
At present, Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy are in talks over the issue, while the finance ministries of the two countries and the national banks of Russia and Ukraine have already discussed the essentials. Ukraine’s chief banker is confident that there will be no problems with rouble payments. The roubles is a freely convertible currency, so there cannot be questions here, he said. He is hoping that in the future, both countries will transfer to rouble-denominated settlements not just in gas trade, but also in other fields.