KYIV (Reuters) -- Ukraine will settle its Russian gas bills on June 5, officials confirmed, and one said Kyiv expects an apology from Moscow for comments that cast doubt over its ability to pay.
Russia has warned natural-gas supplies to Europe could stop at the end of this month or next if Ukraine does not pay for gas placed in underground storage that is needed to keep pressure in pipelines to ensure smooth transit.
It cut gas supplies to Ukraine and later to Europe in January during a three-week stand-off over state energy firm Naftogaz's debts and the price of gas.
"We will pay during the day," Naftogaz spokesman Valentyn Zemlyanski told Reuters. Yushchenko said in a statement the payment would come "within an hour." Gazprom declined to comment.
His energy envoy, Bohdan Sokolovsky, was cited by Interfax-Ukraine as saying Russia should apologize. "We expect, after the payment is completed, an apology to follow from the Russian side, considering these incorrect and humiliating statements...concerning the ability of Ukraine to pay for gas," he said.
Ukraine needs to pay $657 million by June 7, including $500 million for gas that was placed in underground storage. A confirmation of payment is expected by midnight.