PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, April 19, /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin says Moscow’s demand to Kiev to settle the gas debts is not connected with the political process in Ukraine.
“We do not connect the economy with the political process in Ukraine,” Putin said in an interview with the Vesti on Saturday television programme.”
Russia’s demand to settle the overdue payments “not at all is connected with the election /in Ukraine on May 25/,” Putin said.
“It was back on April 7 that we were to receive money for the gas supplied in March, but it never happened, and I am repeating once again - it is 525 million dollars. Zero /received/,” he said adding Russia had been supplying gas to Ukraine “at most low price, with all the discounts.”
“But, like we have agreed, if they do not make due payments, we shall be using the initial price formula. It is - as per the contract - 485 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres. And we are saying - we could do it right now, even with the aggregated debt of 2.2 billion dollars, but we would not do so.
“We do not want either to undermine the Ukrainian economy, or to doubt the reliability of the gas transit to Europe,” Putin said.
“Thus, we are calling on all European countries, all the countries interested in supporting the Ukrainian economy, to get involved in the process of assisting Ukraine and offering measures aimed at financing the budget,” Vladimir Putin said.
Putin stressed Russia was ready to hold for a month more and not to introduce a pre-payment approach. “But we cannot be waiting forever. We cannot put on the Russian budget or on the Russian taxpayers the entire burden of paying for the 45-million country.”
He also said it was not necessary to begin right now using roubles in payments for gas supplies to Ukraine. “In fact, this is not of a big importance, anyway, Ukraine will have to take those roubles from somewhere,” he explained.
“I think there is nothing that could get in the way of normalisation and normal cooperation,” Putin said.
He confirmed that the stealthy recording and subsequent publication of his conversation with Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who was Danish prime minister at that time, had taken place. “I was on a trip to Denmark,” the president said and gave an affirmative answer when asked whether Rasmussen had recorded their conversation without asking for his consent.
The incident might have happened in the period between 2001 and 2009 when Rasmussen headed the Danish government. “At one of the meetings when he was the prime minister of Denmark, he asked me if we could meet. It was not scheduled. I agreed, we met and talked. But, as it turned out later, he had brought a tape recorder, stealthily recorded our conversation and then published it in the press,” Putin recalled during his call-in session with the residents of Russia on April 17.
The press service of NATO (Rasmussen is the Secretary-General of the alliance) hurried to deny this, but a Danish news agency later admitted that the incident had occurred in Brussels in 2002.
Speaking about another European politician, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who will most likely succeed Rasmussen as the head of NATO, Putin said he had “a very good relationship” with him and described him as “a very serious and responsible person”.
“But we shall see how our relations will develop in his new capacity” he added.
However, he declined to answer a question about Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich. “You should ask him,” Putin said when asked whether Yanukovich would be in Ukraine during Easter.