GO
Loading...

INTERVIEW-Ukraine says can pay for Russian gas without loans

Katya Golubkova
Friday, 1 Nov 2013 | 8:52 AM ET

* EU officials say in talks with IMF on a standby financing to Ukraine

* Ukraine's Energy Minister hopes to resolve the gas spat with Russia soon

(Adds detail)

NEMCHINOVO, Russia, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Kiev is able to cover payments for Russian gas without additional borrowing and hopes to resolve its differences with Moscow in the near future, Ukrainian Energy Minister Eduard Stavitsky said in an interview on Friday.

Senior officials from the European Union told Reuters the EU was in advanced discussions with the International Monetary Fund on providing standby financing to Ukraine should the country come under economic pressure from Russia later this year.

"What loan? I'm hearing about this from you for the first time - you have lots of information. We always settle bills using our own funds, not from borrowing," Stavitsky said on the sidelines of a meeting in a Moscow suburb.

It is not clear exactly how much money Ukraine needs to pay the debt, but bankers and asset managers familiar with the distressed financial situation of the nation of 45 million suggest a standby facility between $10 billion and $15 billion may be necessary.

Earlier this week, Russia said that Ukraine, which relies heavily on supplies of Russian gas, had not settled an $882 million bill for August deliveries and demanded urgent payment.

The spat has unnerved Europe, where Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom covers a quarter of gas needs, while around half of Russian gas exports to the EU go via Ukraine. At the height of the 2006 and 2009 winters similar rows resulted in temporary halts in Russian gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine.

Stavitsky reiterated that the differences were likely to be ironed out soon.

"We hope to find a common language in the nearest future, there is no doubt about it, maybe today," he said.

NO GAS WARS

Harsh language from Gazprom during the gas dispute has raised concerns of a new "gas war" over prices between the neighbours, which disrupted supplies to Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told Reuters that he saw no reason for Moscow to cut gas supplies to Ukraine over an unpaid bill for now.

Stavitsky agreed: "I am of the same opinion... We have normal relations, we're not politicising the situation...We have always paid our debts, and it will be the same this time."

(Reporting by Katya Golubkova; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Alessandra Prentice and Keiron Henderson)