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  Thursday, December 12, 2019
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Ukraine's prime minister said on Wednesday she would order the country's
Ukraine's prime minister said on Wednesday she would order the country's national oil and gas company Naftogaz to calculate and pay its debt to Russia for natural gas supplied without contracts.

The statement came after President Viktor Yushchenko demanded earlier on Wednesday the government resume talks on the repayment of the country's gas debt to Russia following Russian gas monopoly Gazprom's decision to cut supplies to the ex-Soviet state.

"We will order Naftogaz to pay under a [government] resolution ... in the absence of a contract," Yulia Tymoshenko told a Cabinet meeting.

Gazprom reduced supplies to Ukraine for the second time in two days on Tuesday, bringing shipments to less than half their normal level over Kiev's failure to pay off its $600 million gas debt and approve new supply schemes. Ukraine now receives 69.3 million cubic meters of gas per day compared to the usual 156 million.

"The developments over gas supplies to Ukraine make me draw your attention again to the insufficient and inappropriate government action to implement the agreement reached between the Ukrainian and Russian presidents in Moscow on February 12," a presidential spokesman quoted Yushchenko as saying in a letter to Tymoshenko.

Yushchenko and Russian leader Vladimir Putin agreed that Gazprom and Naftogaz switch to direct supplies without intermediaries, which Ukraine blames for allowing its debt to accumulate, and to set up two joint ventures. However, no documents to this end have yet been signed.

The letter reflects a longtime dispute between the president and premier, close allies in the 2004 'Orange' revolution that swept Yushchenko to power. The two one-time allies split afterwards over a series of scandals surrounding Tymoshenko during her eight months as premier in 2005.

Some analysts in Kiev said the fresh debt row with Russia was a result of differences between them.

Naftogaz on Tuesday threatened to start tapping Russian gas in transit to Europe, which imports a quarter of its gas needs from Russia, and blamed Moscow for blocking the gas talks. Independent observers hired by Gazprom were not allowed into two gas metering stations in Ukraine on Tuesday.

No shortfall in gas supplies has so far been reported by any EU country. But supplies were affected at the start of 2006, when Russia briefly cut off shipments to Ukraine, which transits about 80% of Russian gas, amid a bitter pricing row.


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