Ukraine accuses Turkmenistan of impeding two-way settlements

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Ukraine's prime minister has accused Turkmenistan of delaying bilateral settlements on natural gas supplies in the latest row over energy to hit the former Soviet country.

KIEV, March 20 (RIA Novosti, Pavel Dulman) - Ukraine's prime minister has accused Turkmenistan of delaying bilateral settlements on natural gas supplies in the latest row over energy to hit the former Soviet country.

"Turkmenistan has not yet produced a list of Ukrainian goods that will be provided as payment toward gas supplies," Yuriy Yekhanurov said on television Sunday.

The premier said his country had a commodity debt of $80 million and added that as soon as the Central Asian country sent Ukraine a list of goods and services, Kiev would be ready to pay that part of the debt.

"I have already issued instructions that the necessary documents be prepared, and on Wednesday (March 22) we will resume negotiations," Yekhanurov said.

On Saturday, Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry said that Ukraine was delaying payment for natural gas shipments and threatened to cut off supplies unless the Ukrainian side cleared the outstanding debt. If that were to happen, it would be the second time a supplier had turned off the taps to Ukraine, as Russian energy giant Gazprom cut supplies on January 1 amid a bitter dispute over prices for natural gas supplies. The spat was settled with an agreement three days later.

Turkmenistan became the principal supplier of natural gas to Ukraine after Kiev signed an agreement with Ashgabat to increase Turkmen gas supplies, buying less from Russia.

According to Turkmenistan, Ukraine's debt stands at $158.9 million.

In February, Ukraine acknowledged a $158.9 mln debt for gas supplies from Turkmenistan, including $143.3 mln for 2005.

President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov has urged Ukraine to pay its gas debt.

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