MOSCOW, December 23 (Sputnik) — Russia will stop gas sales to Ukraine if Kiev fails to repay $1.65 billion of its gas debt to Russia, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Tuesday.
"Under the agreement, there will be no supplies in January if the debt of $1.65 billion remains unsettled," the minister said.
"Our [previous] discussions in the month of October were based on price forecast of $360. At the moment, the price may be lower… I think, [it will be at] $340-$360," he said.
The Minister said that after the discount of $100 per 1,000 cubic meters, granted by Russia's Gazprom to Ukraine's Naftogaz, expires on April 1, the price of Russian gas to Ukraine will amount to about $440. According to Novak, Moscow is ready to consider a request for a new discount, but so far Ukrainian authorities have not asked for it.
After a six-month break, Russia resumed gas sales to Ukraine on December 9. A temporary agreement between Moscow and Kiev, in force during the cold season, stipulates that Ukraine should repay $3.1 billion of its $5.3-billion gas debt.
Ukraine's state-run oil and gas company Naftogaz repaid $1.45 billion of its gas debt to Gazprom in early December and allocated $378 million as prepayment for future supplies of 1 billion cubic meters of gas.
On Monday Ukrainian Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchishin told journalists that Ukraine so far has purchased some 300 million cubic meters of Russian gas under the so-called "winter package."
On the same day in an interview on Rossiya-24 television Novak expressed hope that Russia and Ukraine will continue their cooperation in gas deliveries even after the ten-year contract on gas transit and supply between Gazprom and Naftogaz expires in 2019.