Ukraine has paid for another month of Russian gas, following threats Moscow would cut off deliveries. Brussels has summoned Russian and Ukrainian officials for talks to resolve a gas dispute between the two countries.
Ukrainian state-owned energy company Naftogaz said Friday it had paid $15 million (13 million euros) to receive gas deliveries from Russia for the month of March. But while Russian gas giant Gazprom confirmed a prepayment had been received, a company spokesman said the sum would only be enough for one day of supplies.
Under a current "winter package" deal brokered by the European Union in October, Russia agreed to supply Ukraine with gas until March 31 in return for advance payments.
Tensions between the two neighbors rose this week when Gazprom threatened to cut off deliveries by the weekend because Kyiv had not met a prepayment deadline. Such a step would have significant implications for other European countries - about one third of Europe's natural gas imports come from Russia, and about half of that amount passes through Ukrainian pipelines.
The energy dispute also threatens to exacerbate hostilities in eastern Ukraine, where a conflict between pro-Russian separatists and forces loyal to Kyiv has claimed more than 5,600 lives.
Last week Moscow announced it would deliver gas to the eastern rebel-held areas of Luhansk and Donetsk, after separatist leaders said Kyiv had ceased gas shipments to the region. Russia's Gazprom is demanding Ukraine pay for those gas deliveries.
Talks in Brussels
EU-mediated talks on Russia's gas deliveries to Ukraine are expected to be held in Brussels on Monday. Both countries' energy ministers have confirmed their attendance.
"I have confirmed my participation and we plan to discuss the range of issues involving our relations in Brussels," Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak was quoted as saying by Ria Novosti news agency on Friday.
Following the latest spat, Naftogaz CEO Andrei Kobolev said the company hoped to buy more gas from Europe in spring in a bid to move away from energy dependence on Russia.
nm/sms (Reuters, AFP, dpa AP)