MOSCOW, April 8 /TASS/. President Putin’s support for Gazprom’s proposal to drop penalties against Ukraine for taking less gas than contracted is indirect economic assistance to this country in the hardest period of its development, Russian president’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.
At a meeting with Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller, Putin said that economic issues should always stand apart and should not be mixed with politics and other aspects of bilateral relations, including the crisis aspects, Peskov said.
"In times of trouble, it was Russia that always helped Ukraine directly or indirectly and did that fairly unequivocally. That is why the current decision should certainly be regarded is indirect assistance to Ukraine. It is an economic matter," the Kremlin spokesman stressed adding that Russia was always ready to demonstrate pragmatism and flexibility. "This /decision/ is just another confirmation," Peskov concluded.
At his meeting with Miller held earlier on Wednesday, Putin agreed to Gazprom’s proposal not to penalize Kiev for taking less gas than contracted in the next three months. Gazprom also promised to drop such claims in the next period. "I agree," Putin said.
"Considering the difficult situation in the Ukrainian economy, we need to meet our partners halfway," the president added.
Russia earlier extended by three months its winter package of gas supplies to Ukraine as of April 1excluding the "take or pay" clause from gas settlements between Ukraine’s national energy company Naftogaz and Gazprom.
Putin also pledged not to use gas prices as an instrument of exerting pressure on Ukraine. "It is necessary that our partners feel a certain degree of confidence in our intentions to preserve normal business relations," Putin emphasized.
"We are not going to use our economic ties as a leverage for resolving other issues that are not linked to economy. We have never done that before and I assure them that we are not going to do that in future," Putin explained.