KIEV, June 17 (RIA Novosti) — The Ukrainian government has created an energy crisis headquarters, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said at a parliamentary session Tuesday.
"An energy crisis headquarters has been created in the government," Yatsenyuk said. The prime minister added that the headquarters' goal was to balance energy resources, consumption, expenses and energy effectiveness in the country.
Volodymyr Groysman, Ukraine's deputy prime minister for regional policy, heads the new headquarters, and Ukraine's Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan serves as his deputy.
On Monday, Yatsenyuk told lawmakers to prepare a law on the emergency situation in the country's energy sector, after Russian gas giant Gazprom halted gas deliveries to Ukraine due to a $4.5-billion debt owed by Naftogaz and switched to an advance payment system.
Gazprom assured European recipients of the gas that flows through Ukraine that gas deliveries would not be affected and has continued the daily flow of 185 million cubic meters intended for transit to Europe via Ukraine.
Ukraine’s gas debt to Russia has been building since 2013, when the country found itself amid a deep political crisis. According to the latest estimates, Russia says Ukraine owes $4.46 billion in unpaid bills, and has been running up more debt at a rate of some $1 billion per month.
Ukraine has been driving a hard bargain in its dispute with Russia, pressing for a price of $268.5 per 1,000 cubic meters, although Prodan previously said the country is ready to compromise at $326.