Russian President Vladimir Putin says Ukraine must come to the negotiating table over its unpaid energy bills, warning that Russia would otherwise require that Kyiv pay in advance for Russian natural-gas supplies.
Speaking on April 9 at a cabinet meeting on energy issues at the Novo-Ogaryovo presidential residence near Moscow, Putin also warned the Ukrainian government against doing "anything that can't be fixed."
He said that Europe recognized the Kyiv government but does not give money to support it. Moscow, he said, had continued to support Ukraine but that could not last forever.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told the meeting Ukraine had amassed $2.2 billion in gas debt to Moscow.
Medvedev said that the $2.2 billion was only part of Ukraine's debt to Russia. He said Kyiv also owed Russia some $11.4 billion for discounted gas Ukraine received under a 2009 agreement that was just annulled, and another $3 billion for loans Moscow extended to Kyiv since December 2013.
Medvedev said that given the amount of the debt, Ukraine should pay for future gas shipments in advance.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was still waiting for the United States to explain the purpose of calling for a four-party meeting of representatives from the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union.
Lavrov said Russian officials wanted to know "what they are going to do at the meeting" expected next week.
Lavrov described the situation in Ukraine as an "internal crisis" and said Russia had its own conditions for such a meeting, including that "those currently in power in Kyiv must invite all the regions, all political forces to a dialogue on the constitution, language, and other aspects."
On April 8, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton announced the four-party meeting was scheduled for some time between April 14 and 18.
With reporting by Reuters, Interfax, and dpa