Russian lowers gas cost for Ukraine: prime minister
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin agreed during a visit to Kiev this week to drop the cost of Russian gas to Ukraine for the first quarter of 2011, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said late Friday.
"We agreed that the price for the first quarter" of next year will be 230-235 dollars for 1,000 cubic metres, against about 250 dollars for the same amount for the last quarter of this year, the Ukrainian premier told AFP.
Negotiations over the price for the remainder of next year would continue, he said.
Putin visited Ukraine on Wednesday, when the countries signed a raft of agreements, including in shale gas exploration and nuclear cooperation amid Ukrainian opposition concerns over increasingly closer ties with Moscow.
After pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych came to power earlier this year, Ukraine in April agreed to keep Russia's Black Sea Fleet based in Crimea at least until 2042 in exchange for a 30 percent discount on Russian gas.
Under the previous pro-Western administration in Ukraine, gas pricing was repeatedly at the centre of disputes between the two countries.
In January 2009 haggling over gas issues led to energy supplies being turned off to several EU states in the midst of a bitterly cold winter. Around 80 percent of Russian gas to Europe transits through Ukraine.
© 2010 AFP