KIEV, Ukraine, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Russia and Ukraine are "very close" to finalizing a new natural gas deal but haven't reached any formal conclusions, the Ukrainian president said.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said negotiations were moving in the right direction on securing a better price for natural gas.
"We have come very close to resolving this issue," he was quoted by Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying. "But this process has not yet been concluded and it continues every day."
Kiev is paying around $400 per 1,000 cubic meters for its gas from Russia, putting further strain on an economy battered by recession.
Opposition leader and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison sentence for her role in the current gas deal, brokered in 2009. That deal returned gas supplies from Gazprom to Ukraine following disruptions brought on by contract disputes, though the current government has complained it was costly. She denies charges she abused her authority in that deal.
Yanukovych said there was some difficulty in working with the Kremlin on the deal but added "there is a great desire from both sides to find a solution."