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Russian energy giant Gazprom offers its natural gas to Ukraine
Russian energy giant Gazprom offers its natural gas to Ukraine at $450 per 1,000 cubic meters and hopes the proposal will prompt the country's energy company Naftogaz to resume talks, the Gazprom CEO said Sunday.

"Let us hope the proposal... will return Naftogaz to the negotiating table as soon as possible," Alexei Miller said.

Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on Thursday after last-ditch talks on Kiev's outstanding $2-billion gas debt and a new contract for 2009 failed late on New Year's Eve.

Some European countries, including Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, have said that Russian gas deliveries through the Ukrainian pipeline have fallen.

Earlier Russia offered the price of $250 per 1,000 cu m, but Ukraine dismissed the offer. Kiev, which paid $179.5 per 1,000 cu m in 2008, says the optimum price is $200-235. After the refusal, Gazprom said the price could be $418.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said Sunday Ukraine illegally tapped 50 million cubic meters of Russian natural gas bound for European consumers.

"Over the past 24 hours, we fed 295 million cu m of gas into the Ukrainian gas transportation system, that is a bit more than requested by European consumers, but we had only 270 million cu m on the output. They stole 25 million," Kupriyanov said.

"Minus 25 million cu m [intermediary trader] RosUkrEnergo does not get from Naftogas for its export operations," he said.

Naftogaz has denied Gazprom's accusations.

Kupriyanov also said Gazprom has proposed to the EU to conduct independent monitoring of gas transit via Ukraine.

The spokesman denied Ukraine's claims that Russia itself halted gas transit to Europe.

Ukraine transits about 80% of Russian gas, a major source of revenue for Moscow, bound for the EU. Europe buys a quarter of its gas needs from Gazprom.

The 2006 gas row between the two former Soviet states resulted in a brief cutoff in supplies to Ukraine. When shortages were reported in some Eastern European countries, Russia accused Ukraine of siphoning off Europe-bound gas.


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