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EU to meet Kiev minister to restart Ukraine, Russia gas talks

EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger will meet Ukraine Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan on Tuesday in an effort to get Moscow and Kiev to restart talks on resolving a bitter gas dispute.

A spokeswoman for Oettinger said Thursday that the hope is the meeting in Brussels will pave the way for fresh EU-brokered talks after the latest round collapsed Monday, prompting Russia to cut gas supplies to Ukraine.

No date, however, has been fixed for talks with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, the spokeswoman added.

Oettinger had said after Monday’s failure in Kiev that he was “convinced” a solution was still possible, highlighting an EU compromise package.

This would require Ukraine to pay $1.0 billion immediately, with the remainder of its unpaid bills settled by year-end.

The price would be $385 per 1,000 cubic metres in the winter and $300 in the summer.

Moscow had said it would not accept less than $385 while Kiev — which originally wanted $268.50 — has raised the amount it was willing to pay to $326.

Ukraine was ready to accept this formula but “for the moment the Russian partners were not,” the Commission said at the time.

“The Russian side insisted on immediate payment of $1.9 billion and an overall price of $385,” it said.

The gas dispute has compounded a political crisis sparked by Kiev’s tilt to the west in defiance of Moscow, its Soviet-era master.

Europe gets about 30 percent of its gas from Russia, with half of that transiting through Ukraine.

Russia cut supplies in 2006 and 2009, causing havoc in Europe during the winter, and on Monday said it would deliver no more gas to Ukraine unless Kiev paid upfront.