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Ukraine, Russia close to settlement of gas issue - Poroshenko

"I hope considerable progress will be showed October 17, next Friday, in Milan,” the Kharkov regional administration quoted Poroshenko as saying

KIEV, October 11. /TASS/. Ukraine and Russia have nearly reached agreements on natural gas supplies to Ukraine, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Saturday during a visit to the eastern city of Kharkov.

“We are now very close to settling the gas dispute issue with the Russian Federation. I hope considerable progress will be showed October 17, next Friday, in Milan,” the Kharkov regional administration quoted Poroshenko as saying.

The Ukrainian president said the gas deliveries issue is discussed jointly with issues relating to implementation of the Minsk agreements reached in early September.

“We believe Ukraine’s proposals are clear and well-grounded. We are convinced that we have approached the solution of this issue,” he said, adding that “issues of energy and peace are interconnected”.

Earlier, Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said Russian President Vladimir Putin will probably meet next week with Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande during the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) that will take place in Milan on October 16-17.

Gas dispute

Ukraine, which transits Russian gas on to European consumers, currently does not receive Russian gas for its own needs due to an unsettled dispute with Moscow over prices.

Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom on June 16 switched Ukraine’s national oil and gas company Naftogaz to prepayment for gas supplies because Kiev failed to pay part of its gas debt by the deadline of 10:00 Moscow Time on June 16.

Gas supplies to Ukraine for its own needs were halted, but transit volumes were reportedly passing via Ukraine to Europe in line with the schedule.

In late 2008 - early 2009 a gas dispute between Moscow and Kiev saw Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on January 1, 2009 over unpaid debts. Gas deliveries to European consumers were affected because Ukraine apparently started siphoning off transited gas. The dispute was resolved on January 18, 2009 with a new gas contract that today’s Kiev authorities want revised.

Ukraine's southeastern crisis

According to the UN, some 3,500 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s war-torn southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation conducted since mid-April to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR).

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on cessation of fire and exchange of prisoners during talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk. The ceasefire took effect the same day but reports said it has occasionally been violated.