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Ukraine gets extra day of gas debt relief

Gazprom sets new deadline to June 10.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   June 5, 2014 at 9:32 AM
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BERLIN, June 5 (UPI) -- Ukraine gets an extra day to pay off its $2.2 billion debt for Russian gas deliveries, Russian energy company Gazprom said.

Gazprom had set a June 9 deadline for Ukraine to pay off its debt to avoid potentially triggering a repeat of gas shortages that gripped Europeans in 2006 and 2009. Debt rows in those years prompted Gazprom to cut gas through Ukraine, which hosts the bulk of the Russian gas bound for Europe through its Soviet-era transit network.

Alexei Miller, the top executive at Gazprom, met in Berlin with Andrei Kobolev, his counterpart at Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz, to discuss the debt issues.

"On request of the Ukrainian party, the debt settlement deadline was postponed until June 10, due to June 9 being a holiday in Ukraine," the Russian energy company said in a statement Wednesday.

The $2.2 billion in debt covers gas bills from November to April. The Russian company said the debt is based on Ukraine's preferred price of $268.5 per 1,000 cubic meters, the standard purchase volume.

There was no statement from European officials on the Wednesday talks in Berlin.

Gazprom said Ukraine may have to start paying for its gas in advance because of "persistent non-payments."

Following an initial round of talks Monday in Berlin, the European Commission said all three sides agreed there would be no interruption of delivery, no prepayment for gas deliveries for June and no move to take the issue to an international arbitration panel so long as talks are ongoing.

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