Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov (file photo) (AFP)
23 November 2005 -- Russia's energy minister says a lack of agreement over payment for Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine could jeopardize gas supplies to Europe next year.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov had been scheduled to visit Ukraine today for talks on gas cooperation but he postponed the visit yesterday.
Ukraine is heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas supplies and serves as a main transit route for Russian gas headed westward. Ukraine currently buys Russian gas at a heavily discounted rate but Moscow wants it to pay market prices.
Energy and Industry Minister Viktor Khristenko, in televised remarks on 22 November, said there was "basic agreement" to switch to a market arrangement but that it had not yet been reflected in specific contracts. He said he hoped the issue would be resolved before the end of the year, to avoid problems with gas supplies.