MOSCOW, April 17 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes that all the issues related to the transit of gas through Ukraine will be successfully resolved on the basis of current existing contracts.
“There is only one problem [in the gas transit to Europe] and it consists in the transit countries, and the most dangerous element is the transit through Ukraine, with whom it is very difficult for us to find an agreement on energy issues. I hope that we will bring it all to the necessary level, I mean current existing and signed contracts,” Putin said during a live Q&A session on Thursday.
Amid the current political standoff between Moscow and Kiev, Russian energy giant Gazprom cancelled two major gas discounts for Ukraine, bringing the price to $485 per 1,000 cubic meters starting from April 1.
Ukraine’s Naftogaz said Tuesday it is ready to pay in full for imported gas from Russia at $268.5 per 1,000 cubic meters. The company currently owes Gazprom $2.2 billion.
Putin said Moscow is ready to withstand the situation on Ukraine’s payment for Russian gas for another month, but then will switch to upfront payments for gas, amid Ukraine’s inability to pay its debts.
“We are ready to tolerate a bit more, we’ll put up with it another month. If over the next month there are no payments, then we will transfer over to the so-called prepayment plan in accordance with the contract,” Putin said.
“This is a very difficult way to pay, it could bring to failures in the delivery of gas to our European consumers,” he said.
The Russian leader earlier urged Western partners to help Kiev pay out its gas debt to ensure the supply and transit of Russian gas to European countries in accordance with existing contractual obligations.
Ukraine went through a regime change in February, following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych and the rise of ultra-nationalist activists backed by the West to power in Kiev. Moscow has not acknowledged Ukraine’s new authorities as legitimate and has condemned its nationalistic policies as threatening the Russian-speaking population of the country.