Ukraine and Russia have yet to finalize an agreement offering gas price cuts for the ex-Soviet republic, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said on Thursday.
"We have come very close to resolving this issue. But this process has not yet been concluded and it continues every day," the presidential press office quoted Yanukovych as saying.
Yanukovych said the talks were proceeding with difficulty but "there is a great desire from both sides to find a solution."
He added that the talks would hopefully be concluded soon.
A Ukrainian government source said on Wednesday that Moscow and Kiev had agreed on a new gas price and would sign an agreement in the next few days but declined to specify the agreed gas price for Ukraine.
The Russian government’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on Wednesday downplayed Ukraine's new gas deal optimism, saying it was premature to speak about any new accords reached between Russia and Ukraine on gas price cuts before Moscow and Kiev signed corresponding agreements.
"We proceed from the fact that talks are in progress. The accords will culminate in the signing of documents. As it has not been done yet, it is premature to comment on this," Peskov said.
On Tuesday, the Ukrainian business daily Economicheskiye Izvestia quoted a source in the Ukrainian presidential administration as saying that Russia and Ukraine had agreed on the reduction of Russian gas prices for Ukraine to $220-230 per 1,000 cubic meters compared to some $400 that Ukraine has to pay in the fourth quarter.
Ukraine has long been seeking to alter the terms of the 2009 gas deal it signed with Russia. The deal ties the price of gas to oil prices, which have risen strongly since 2009, boosting Ukraine's gas bill. The contract says Ukraine must import no less than 33 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia.
Kiev insists on reducing both the price and the volume of gas imports.