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Russian Gas Cutoff to Ukraine Enters Second Day

By VOA News
02 January 2009

Russia is withholding natural gas supplies to Ukraine for a second day as officials from both countries seek ways to settle a price dispute.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko says he expects to resume talks with Russia in a few days, and to have a signed an agreement by January 7 (Orthodox Christmas).

Mr. Yushchenko spoke as the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry dispatched envoys to European capitals to discuss the crisis. Russia Friday called for an emergency session of the European Parliament to air its grievances.

There were no reports Friday of gas shortages in Ukraine. Other European countries supplied by Russia's state-run natural gas firm, Gazprom, reported normal deliveries, despite new Russian accusations of Ukrainian gas theft.

As both sides sought to fortify their positions, Gazprom chairman Alexei Miller said his negotiators will demand a 2009 unit price of $418 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas.

Miller said the Ukrainian utility Naftohaz earlier rejected a $250 figure.

Ukraine says the dispute centers on Gazprom's refusal to negotiate increased transit fees for Russian gas carried by pipeline through Ukraine to Western European consumer-countries.

The U.S. State Department is urging both countries to resolve the dispute quickly and with transparency.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.