PRAGUE, October 6 (RIA Novosti) - If the Ukrainian authorities fail to agree a deal with Moscow on the renewal of gas shipments, this winter Ukraine will suffer a humanitarian catastrophe, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Bohuslav Sobotka said in an interview with the Czech news magazine Tyden, published on Monday.
"I find it extremely important that Russia and Ukraine agree on the renewal of gas shipments, for if it does not happen before the winter begins, we will witness a gigantic humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine," Sobotka said.
According to Sobotka, the current crisis in Ukraine was caused, among other reasons by "how the Ukrainian authorities have behaved during the last 25 years, the kind of political leaders Ukraine has had, the levels of corruption and how huge the social inequality has become."
On Monday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that the terms of a deal on supplies of Russian natural gas to Ukraine should be acceptable for Kiev, but Ukraine still needs to pay its debts to Russia's energy giant Gazprom.
According to preliminary arrangements, Russia and Ukraine are expected to sign the so-called "winter package" on Russian gas supplies to Ukraine that envisions a supply of five billion cubic meters of gas within half a year and with a possible increase in volume. The temporary price for 1,000 cubic meters of gas would be $385 for this period.
Kiev, however, has rejected Russia's offer of a discount in the form of an export-duty exemption and wants the contract price to be reduced instead.
Ukraine also wants to agree a debt repayment schedule, as well as terms and schedules of future gas deliveries and insists on amending the current gas contract with Russia in order to formally authorize reverse deliveries of Russian gas to Ukraine from Europe.
In June, Russia's gas giant Gazprom was forced to introduce a prepayment system for gas deliveries to Ukraine due to Kiev's massive debt which is currently estimated at $5.3 billion.