Ukraine needs economic integration with Russia, if it wants to secure lower prices of Russian natural gas, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said on Thursday.
The Russian politician is holding talks in Kiev with the Ukrainian leadership. The two countries are seeking to repair damage caused to bilateral relations during the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko, who left office in February.
Ukraine is unhappy with the high prices of natural gas supplied by Russia.
The long-term gas deal signed in early 2009 by the former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin increased the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas, further straining the country's troubled finances.
"We employ a completely different approach to Russia-Belarus relations [than Russia-Ukraine relations,] including energy pricing because Russia and Belarus are building a Union State," Shuvalov said.
"This means we have a completely different kind of border [than with Ukraine], it's more deeply integrated. We will build a common economic space with Belarus and Kazakhstan by January 1, 2012. It will give us shared economic conditions."
KIEV, April 1 (RIA Novosti)