Spokesman of Russian gas giant Gazprom hails progress in Ukraine gas talks

MOSCOW – Russia’s gas giant Gazprom on Tuesday hailed progress to resolve a crisis that is threatening to cut gas supplies to Ukraine and could disrupt the flow of gas to Europe.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told reporters Russia has been encouraged by Monday’s talks.

“There’s an understanding now of how to move forward. This is probably the main result of yesterday’s talks,” Kupriyanov said in Moscow. He added that the parties are “in the most active stage of talks right now.”

Kupriyanov stressed it is important for Ukraine to clear its $1.4 billion debt for the November and December supply as well as to start clearing the April-May debt.

Moscow has not made public the amount of Ukraine’s debt for the past two months, but Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said last week the May deliveries alone could cost around $2 billion.

EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said on Monday that Russia and Ukraine have agreed on a proposal that would see a lower gas price for Ukraine complete with a debt repayment schedule.

Kupriyanov said the talks are likely to continue on Tuesday but he would not say where they would take place. Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Ukrainian acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the talks would be held in Berlin.