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Minister denies Ukraine's statements on gradual shift to market gas prices

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MOSCOW, December 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko denied Ukraine's statements Tuesday that Moscow had agreed on a gradual transition to market prices for natural gas.

"Allegations made yesterday and today that Russia was ready for gradual transition to market prices for natural gas [supplied to Ukraine] contradict reality," Khristenko told journalists.

On Tuesday, some media reported that Ukraine's Minister of Fuel and Energy Ivan Plachkov had said Russia had agreed to Ukraine's terms, specifically on natural gas supplies at a price of $80 for 1,000 cubic meters for the first quarter of 2006.

Khristenko said he was also surprised by Ukraine's statement that it would tap 15% of Russian natural gas to cover its transit through Ukrainian territory.

"Looking back on the history of our relations in the gas sector, I cannot recall a similar scenario," the minister said. "Paying with any percentage is out of the question."

He said Russia had offered to sell natural gas to Ukraine for $220-$230 per 1,000 cu m and would not make any other price offers.

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