Gazprom rejects Ukraine's claim

Ukrainian President: Viktor Yushchenko

Russian energy giant Gazprom refuted Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's statement that Ukraine had resolved the gas dispute with Russia.

Yushchenko said today his country had used its foreign currency reserves to pay down some of the debt for the Russian-supplied gas, and restructured the remainder.

"A total of $800 million was paid from the reserve funds (of Ukraine's National Bank) and more than $200 million was transferred from Naftogaz profits, and a part of the debt was restructured for January-February," Yushchenko said. "So the issue has been resolved for today."

"Such statements surprise us very much," Gazprom said in a statement. "As regards bilateral relations, there are no agreements on debt restructuring, and no documents on the issue have been signed."

A Gazprom spokesman said earlier today that the company would continue talks to resolve the issue with the Ukrainian national energy company Naftogaz tomorrow, said a Ria Novosti report.

"Oleh Dubyna (the head of Naftogaz) arrives tomorrow for a day or two," Sergei Kupriyanov said.

After declaring the issue resolved, Yushchenko expressed the hope that a contract for gas supplies to Ukraine in 2009 would be signed in the near future.

Moscow has warned Kiev that it will cut off gas supplies in the new year if Ukraine fails to repay its gas debt, and there are concerns that the transit of Russian gas to European customers via Ukraine could be affected.

Ukraine has so far repaid only $1 billion out of its $2.4 billion debt for gas supplied in September, October and November. With December's supplies taken into account, Ukraine's gas debt was estimated by Swiss gas trader RosUkrenergo at $3.2 billion.


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