Ukraine pays about $3.8 billion too much every year for Russian gas when compared with neighboring countries, President Viktor Yanukovych said on Wednesday.
"Taking into account [the gas prices] of our neighbors, we pay nearly 30 billion hryvna more for Russian gas. These funds could have been used for improving the social standards and development of our state," Yanukovych told the government meeting.
Russia and Ukraine have been embroiled in a drawn-out dispute over the price and volume of Russian gas purchased by Ukraine. Kiev insists the current price is too high, while Moscow is pushing for control of Ukraine’s system of gas transit to Europe, as part of a deal to cut prices.
The Ukrainian president also said that high gas price is detrimental to the country's economic development. The Government is seeking to resolve the issues of debt risks and "the shameful gas contracts of the previous government" to a minimum for recent two years, the country's leader said.
Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko announced this January that the country was seeking to cut Russian gas imports to 27 billion cubic meters from the 2012 contracted volume of 52 bcm. Russian gas giant Gazprom reacted by saying the current contract did not stipulate unilateral changes in gas purchases.
Last week Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said that Moscow had sent a new gas proposal to Kiev stipulating a 10 percent discount in the price of gas, which Ukraine was considering.