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Russia flexible in gas talks with Ukraine — presidential spokesman

June 02, 2014, 19:27 UTC+3 SOCHI

Dmitry Peskov said Russia had already decided to postpone until June 9 switching to the pre-payment scheme of gas deliveries

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SOCHI, June 02. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia displays wide flexibility in its talks with Ukraine on the Russian natural gas supplies and much would depend on Kiev’s further steps, a Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

Dmitry Peskov said Russia had already decided to postpone until June 9 switching to the pre-payment scheme of gas deliveries and received from Ukraine some part of its debt, which was yet “far from clearing an overall debt.”

“The only obvious thing is that Russian negotiators are displaying flexibility and are trying to find a solution,” Peskov said. “Much would depend on the Ukrainian side.”

Russia confirmed receiving $786.4 million as repayment for part of Ukraine’s gas debt on Monday, the day when Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger and Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan are meeting in Belgium’s capital, Brussels.

According to recently voiced assessments, Ukrainian state energy company Naftogaz’s debt to Moscow stood at some $3.508 billion with the gas price at $485.5 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Kiev recognizes a debt of $2.237 billion as of April 1, but does not start paying it off because it believes the price should remain at the earlier figure of $268.5 per 1,000 cubic meters, agreed last year when an association agreement with the European Union was shelved in November 2013.

The price rose due to the return to earlier contract agreements, as Ukraine failed to pay for supplied volumes of Russian gas in time and due to denunciation of the Kharkiv Accords with Ukraine in early April, which had been inked in 2010.

The Kharkiv deals stipulated that Russia’s lease of naval facilities in Crimea (then part of Ukraine) would be extended by 25 years beyond 2017 - until 2042. The agreements envisioned a gas supply discount. Now that Crimea has become part of Russia, the discount is no longer applied.

Ukraine saw a coup in February, with new people brought to power amid riots as President Viktor Yanukovych had to leave the country citing security concerns. Crimea refused to recognize the new Kiev authorities and seceded from Ukraine to join Russia after a referendum in March.

Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

Ukraine hopes to annually obtain about 10 billion cubic meters of gas through gas reverse supply schemes from Slovakia, Poland and Hungary.

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