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A new round of trilateral talks were held on Friday in a bid to settle the ongoing gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine, days before a deadline set by Russia to cut the flow of gas if Ukraine does not pay unpaid bills.
At a press conference following the meeting, Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan confirmed that his country had made an initial payment of $786 million, which would arrive in Russia on Monday at the earliest.
Ukraine hopes that Russia will provide gas with a reasonable market price, otherwise his country would consider suing Russia for unilaterally breaching contracts, Prodan said.
His Russian counterpart Alexander Novak said Russia had received notification of the payment, adding that talks with Ukraine over a price for future deliveries would continue on Monday in Brussels once the payment is confirmed.
Novak noted that Russia would consider cutting gas supplies on Tuesday if it does not receive the money.
EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said progress had been made in settling the gas dispute between the two countries and that a price between 350 dollars and 390 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters was “reasonable”.
Ukraine is said to owe some 5.2 billion dollars in total to Russian energy giant Gazprom for gas shipments. Russia has threatened to cut supplies to Ukraine if it does not pays off its bill, and demanded payment in advance for deliveries in June.
The two sides were not able agree on a price for future gas supplies. Moscow wants to charge the 485 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters of gas agreed upon under a contract a few years ago, while Kiev believes it should stick to last year’s discounted rate of 268.5 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters.
The dispute over the gas bill has been hanging fire for months and has also seen the EU intervene to mediate.