Ukraine, Russia agree to hold new gas talks on Sunday

Sat Jun 14, 2014 4:39pm EDT
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By Pavel Polityuk

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine and Russia failed to end a gas pricing dispute at talks on Saturday but agreed to meet again on Sunday, a day before a Russian deadline for Kiev to pay a $1.95 billion debt or have its gas supplies cut off.

Halting deliveries to Kiev could disrupt the gas flow to the European Union, which receives gas via Ukraine, but the chances of a breakthrough have been hit by tensions over an uprising by pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine.

The two sides did little other than set out their positions at talks with European Energy Commission Guenther Oettinger in a Kiev hotel before deciding to resume discussions in the morning.

"Each side explained its position today. No solution was found. Therefore, in line with a proposal by Commissioner Oettinger, the talks will continue tomorrow morning," Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan told reporters.

Andrei Miller, the chief executive of Russia's top natural gas producer, Gazprom,, said nothing to reporters as he went in and left the talks.

Resolving the long-running dispute and averting a cut in gas supplies could help ease tension over the separatist rising, which Kiev blames on Moscow despite Russian denials that it is arming the rebellion.

Russia had initially rejected the idea of holding another round of talks over the weekend, but agreed in the end to have one more try.

"We are ready to seek compromise, but it is useless to put pressure on us," Sergei Kupriyanov, spokesman for Russian state gas producer Gazprom, said in Moscow.   Continued...

Ukrainian Minister for Energy Yuri Prodan speaks during a news conference after EU-Ukraine-Russia energy negotiations at the EU commission representation in Berlin May 30, 2014.  REUTERS/Thomas Peter