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Europe

Government denies being unable to pay gas bill

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-26

Ukraine on Saturday said there was no truth to claims by Russian gas giant Gazprom that Ukraine would not be able to pay its energy bill for the month.

AFP - Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Saturday denied accusations by Russian gas export giant Gazprom that Kiev may not be able to pay its energy bill this month due to a cash crunch.

"We -- Ukraine -- are clearly and confidently managing our financial life during the crisis," the Interfax news agency quoted her as saying.

Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said Friday that Ukraine had cut back on purchases of Russian gas since mid-December and appeared to be facing "serious problems with payment."

But the Ukranian prime minister said: "Such statements have been made at the end of every month for at least the last year."

Ukraine has until January 11 to pay for gas, according to Gazprom, which has cut off supplies to the country over unpaid bills repeatedly in the past.

The International Monetary Fund extended a 16.4-billion-dollar credit in November 2008 to help Kiev cope with a severe slump amid the global financial crisis.

But the fund is withholding the next tranche of its stand by credit -- by far the country's biggest source of foreign income in 2009 -- due to concerns over political infighting in the run-up to the presidential election.

Last January, a gas pricing dispute between Russia and Ukraine led to a halt of Russian gas supplies across much of Europe for two weeks as severe winter temperatures plunged. Russian gas to Europe transits through Ukraine.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said that Moscow will cut gas supplies to Ukraine again if the struggling ex-Soviet nation fails to pay for its energy supplies.

Last month, Putin and Tymoshenko vowed at a meeting in the Ukrainian resort town of Yalta that there would be no repeat of the gas crisis in 2010.

Ukraine has been hard hit by the global economic crisis which triggered a massive slump in its export-dependent heavy industrial sector.
 

Date created : 2009-12-26

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