In stepping up pressure on Ukraine, Russia says it will ask pre-payment for gas supplies

MOSCOW – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says Russia will ask Ukraine to start pre-paying for gas supplies in case Ukraine doesn’t settle outstanding debts.

Medvedev’s statement is the latest attempt to put pressure on Ukraine as it hopes to sign a landmark association agreement with the European Union next month, which would establish a free-trade zone and bolster political ties.

Russia has warned Ukraine that doing business between the two countries will be more difficult if Ukraine signs the deal.

Medvedev on Tuesday was reacting to a complaint of Alexei Miller, chief executive of Russian gas giant Gazprom, who said Ukraine owes Russia $882 million for the August deliveries and was due to pay for it by Oct. 1.