KIEV, Ukraine, April 7 (UPI) -- The Ukrainian government won't bow to pressure from the Kremlin by accepting a rise in natural gas prices, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said.
Russian energy company Gazprom said Ukraine has accumulated around $1.7 billion in gas debt and a discounted price for natural gas, secured in December, no longer applied.
Yatsenyuk said his government was ready to make "all payments" for previous gas supplies from Russia, adding increased prices were unacceptable.
"Ukraine is ready to continue buying natural gas at the price that was in effect since the beginning of the year -- $268 [per 1,000 cubic meters]," he said Saturday. "This is an acceptable and balanced price."
Gazprom in 2009 cut gas supplies to Ukraine in response to contractual disputes. The deal that ended the impasse left Ukraine with some of the highest gas bills in Europe and sparked concerns about energy security in the region.
European consumers get about a quarter of their gas needs met by Russia, though most of that runs through the Soviet-era transit system in Ukraine.
Yatsenyuk said the administration of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych left the Ukrainian economy in shambles. The new government is working with Western leaders to secure relief from the International Monetary Fund.