MOSCOW, February 3 (RIA Novosti) – Crisis-hit Ukraine currently owes Russia about $3.3 billion in unpaid natural gas bills, Russia’s state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom said Monday in an apparent reminder that the long-running conflict over the fuel has not been solved by a recent price cut agreement.
Ukraine is unlikely to pay on time for gas imported in January, Vedomosti cited President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman as saying in a Monday report about Ukraine falling behind with repayments.
Russia agreed to slash the gas price for Ukraine in a December bailout that was widely seen as a political reward for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych after he backed away from integration agreements with the EU to instead cement closer ties with Russia.
Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller met Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Boyko in Moscow to discuss the debt issue Monday, according to a Gazprom statement.
Russia supplied Ukraine with $2.63 billion worth of gas in 2013, Gazprom said.
Ukraine is currently in the throes of a political crisis as anti-government street demonstrations continue into a third month. The resignation of the government last week was widely seen as a concession to the opposition.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said last week that Ukraine’s continuing failure to pay for gas on time “really changes the situation.”
Putin and Medvedev have said that Russia will withhold the majority of a financial aid package promised to Ukraine until the composition of the new government is clear.
Updated with Gazprom statement, new headline and recast throughout