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Published: Tuesday April 8, 2014 MYT 11:05:02 PM
Updated: Tuesday April 8, 2014 MYT 11:05:02 PM

Putin and government to discuss Ukraine energy ties

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin will meet senior Russian government officials on Wednesday to discuss Russia's economic ties with Ukraine, including on energy, his spokesman said.

The spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, gave no further details. State-controlled natural gas producer Gazprom says Ukraine missed a deadline to pay its March gas bill by midnight on Monday and owes the Russian company $2.2 billion (1.3 billion pounds).

"A meeting is planned with the leaders of the government to discuss the extraordinary situation that has developed in economic cooperation with Ukraine, including in ... energy dialogue," Peskov said.

Gazprom has nearly doubled the price it charges Ukraine for gas, to $485 (289.67 pounds) per 1,000 cubic metres since President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted by protesters in February and a pro-Western government was installed.

Gazprom has not said whether it will punish Kiev for failing to pay the March bill but has suggested previously that it might ask Kiev to pay in advance for its gas if it fails to pay its bills.

The Russian company halted deliveries to Ukraine during price disputes in the winters of 2008-2009 and 2005-2006, disrupting supplies to of Russian gas that is pipes to Europe via Ukraine.

In December, Putin gave Ukraine a discount on gas and promised a $15 billion bailout after Yanukovich spurned a trade pact with the European Union and turned toward Russia. Russia, whose annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region has badly hurt ties with Kiev and the West, has since scrapped the gas discount and halted the bailout.

(Reporting by Alexei Anischuk, Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Timothy Heritage)


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