KIEV, Sept. 22 ‚Äď Russia was pleased by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych‚Äôs pledge to postpone Ukraine‚Äôs accession to NATO, but more must be done to secure a natural gas deal, a newspaper reported Saturday, citing sources.
Russia and Ukraine on Friday failed to agree on gas prices through the end of the year, but will continue intensive talks, Yanukovych said after meeting Russian counterpart Mikhail Fradkov.
Ukraine seeks to secure extra supplies of gas at affordable prices, as it faces a shortage of 8 billion cu m of gas in the fourth quarter, or up to 10% of the country‚Äôs annual demand.
Ukraine wants to maintain gas prices at $95/1,000 cubic meters in October through the end of December, while Russia has been apparently seeking to charge at least $135/1,000 cu m.
‚ÄúWe perfectly understand that this question if very difficult,‚ÄĚ Yanukovych said after the talks in Moscow. ‚ÄúWe will continue the talks.‚ÄĚ
Yanukovych has been apparently hoping to secure a better gas deal with Russia following his controversial comments last week pledging that Ukraine would postpone the accession to NATO, which Russia views as a military threat.
Russia has been threatening to increase gas prices and putting other pressure on Ukraine since early 2005, when President Viktor Yushchenko pledged to join NATO within several years.
Continued on Page 2