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Ukraine ready to accept gas compromise

Ukraine has said it is willing to compromise with Russia and pay a higher price for natural gas, after Moscow threatened to cut off supplies unless a figure is reached by Monday.

Ukraine's gas dispute with Russia

Ukraine said Friday that it was ready to accept a compromise price for Russian natural gas for a period of 18 months, in an attempt to dodge Russia's threat of cutting off gas on Monday.

A price of $362 per 1,000 cubic meters - above what Kyiv wants to pay and below what Russia demands - was proposed by the European Commission during talks, according to Andriy Kobolev, chief executive of the state gas company Naftogaz.

"In our opinion the European Commission has proposed a compromise that is not bad," Kobolev told reporters. "Ukraine will be ready under such a compromise to pay its unpaid bills from the past."

Kiyiv has amassed more than $4 billion in debts to Russia's state-owned gas exporter Gazprom, which also delivers gas to the EU, half of it through pipelines via Ukraine.

Russia nearly doubled the price to $485 per 1,000 cubic meters after a popular ousting of Ukraine's Kremlin-backed president Viktor Yanukovych in February. Ukraine wants Moscow to stick to a price of $268.50 offered to Kyiv after Yanukovych refused a trade pact with the EU.

Russia's energy ministry on Friday said, however, that Moscow does not intend to hold new talks with either the EU or Ukraine before the Monday deadline.

"We are not planning any meetings so far," Energy Spokeswoman Olga Goland said.

rs/sri (Reuters, AFP)

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