World Bulletin/News Desk
Russia increased the gas price for Ukraine to $485 per 1,000 cubic metres and urged Kiev on Thursday to pay its $2.2 billion debt, stepping up pressure on an economy already on the brink of bankruptcy.
The head of Russia's top natural gas producer, Gazprom , told Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that from this month the price would rise by 26 percent after Moscow introduced an export duty on gas to Ukraine.
Russia, no stranger to using its economic muscle for geopolitical gains, was incensed when protesters toppled pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovich, installing new leaders bent on pursuing closer ties with the European Union.
"The gas price is increasing automatically from April," Alexei Miller told Medvedev, adding that the end of zero-export duties would trigger the rise.
Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan said on Thursday a demand by Russia's Gazprom for Kiev to pay $485 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas had put the price too high and was politically motivated.
"The Ukrainian economy should not pay such a price for gas. It is a political price," Prodan told reporters in Kiev, and called for talks with Gazprom.
The increase came just two days after Gazprom announced a 44 percent hike in the gas price for Ukraine starting from April 1 to $385.5 per 1,000 cubic metres due to the unpaid bills.Last Mod: 03 Nisan 2014, 16:23