MOSCOW, May 15 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Moscow had been forced to introduce advance payments for deliveries of natural gas to Ukraine, but remains open for discussion to normalize the situation.
"I would like to emphasize once again that we were forced to make this decision,” Putin said in a letter to EU leaders.
“The situation with payments for Russian gas only got worse over this period of time [since March],” Putin said, emphasizing that Ukraine’s accumulated gas debt has grown from $2.237 billion to $3.508 billion.
“Unfortunately, we have to say that we have not received any specific proposals from our partners as to how to stabilize the situation with the Ukrainian buying company so that it can meet its contractual obligations and ensure reliable transit,” Putin stressed, adding that despite the current standoff Russia was still ready for further negotiations.
“The Russian Federation is still open to continue consultations and work together with European countries in order to normalize the situation," the president said.
The Russian leader also urged European countries and the European Commission to actively engage in joint efforts aimed at normalizing the situation in Ukraine.
“The Russian Federation is still open to continue consultations and work together with European countries in order to normalise the situation. We also hope that the European Commission will more actively engage in the dialogue in order to work out specific and fair solutions that will help stabilize the Ukrainian economy,” he stressed.
On Tuesday, Gazprom officially notified Ukrainian national oil and gas company Naftogaz about switching to advanced payment for gas supplies.
Gazprom warned Kiev that if Ukraine fails to pay for June deliveries by June 2, the company will cut off gas supplies beginning June 3.
According to Gazprom, Naftogaz has not paid even part of its gas debt to Russia. In response, acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk announced that Kiev was ready to pay off its arrears if Russia agreed to sell gas at the old price of $268 per thousand cubic meters.
On April 1, the price of Russian gas for Ukraine rose to $485 per thousand cubic meters from $268.50, as Russia cancelled two major discounts.