MOSCOW, June 12 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom said it was delaying a move to force Ukraine to pay in advance for gas because of the intensity of contractual negotiations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin this week said he was ready to offer Ukraine a discount on natural gas on a permanent basis. The Ukrainian government had balked on earlier proposals, something Putin said would take the gas relationship to an "absolutely different stage."
Gazprom has said it would force Ukraine to pay in advance unless it settles the billions of dollars of debt owed for natural gas deliveries.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said Wednesday he was holding off on the pre-payment scheme because of trilateral talks involving members of the European Union.
"The Russian side made a move towards continuing talks which have been very intense lately," he said. "The Russian side has decided to postpone the switch to prepayment until 10:00 a.m. on Monday [June 16]."
A discounted price for natural gas for Ukraine was suspended following a November political upheaval that saw Kiev move closer to the EU. Putin said he was offering the same arrangement that Ukraine had before the conflict.
European consumers get about a quarter of their gas needs met by Russia, though most of that runs through a Soviet-era transit network in Ukraine.