No payments from Ukraine, Gazprom says

Dec. 31, 2008 at 3:38 PM

MOSCOW, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said Wednesday it would cut gas supplies Jan. 1 if Ukraine did not settle its $2 billion debt by the end of the day.

Officials with the Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz said Tuesday they were in the process of completing payments in an effort to avoid a disruption in gas supplies.

"The process of payment will be completed in the next few hours," said Naftogaz spokesman Valentyn Zemlyanskiy. "We will transfer $1.5 billion for November and December."

Aids to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said the debt payment would remove obstacles to securing gas contracts for 2009, but a Gazprom spokesman said they have yet to receive payments from Kiev, RIA Novosti said.

"We have not received the money, and it is premature to say the debt has been repaid," said Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov.

A similar row in 2006 disrupted gas supplies to Europe briefly, as Ukraine hosts 80 percent of the Russian gas bound for Europe.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko left Wednesday for Moscow for an emergency meeting to settle the row.

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