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Poroshenko Says Ukraine Will Have Gas This Winter

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks to journalists as he leaves after a multilateral meeting on Ukraine's crisis on the sidelines of the 10th ASEM summit in Milan on October 17.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says the country will have natural gas from Russia this winter.

Poroshenko said in an interview on Ukrainian television on October 18 that Russia and Ukraine must only agree on the price for that gas.

He said the two sides have agreed that Ukraine will pay $385 per 1,000 cubic meters for gas that was delivered through March 31.

Poroshenko -- who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin three times in Milan on October 17 -- said Kyiv had proposed to pay $325 per 1,000 cubic meters for gas used by Ukraine in May and June and to pay $385 for gas in the winter.

He said Russia was insisting on the $385 per 1,000 cubic meters for all parts of the year.

Russian, Ukrainian, and EU officials will meet on October 21 in Brussels to discuss the gas-pricing issue.

The Ukrainian government is hard-pressed to pay its multibillion-dollar gas debt to Russia's Gazprom.

Poroshenko said state energy company Naftogaz is unable to pay its arrears partly because of debts created by consumers in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the scene of fighting due to parts being controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

He said Kyiv has several "different options" for repaying Russia so that gas supplies can resume, including funding help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He said an IMF mission is scheduled to come to Kyiv in mid-November to discuss possible changes to Ukraine's current loan program.

Russia provides about one-third of the EU's natural-gas consumption, half of which transits via Ukraine, and previous disruptions in 2006 and 2009 led to sharp increases in prices.

Meanwhile, Poroshenko also said that parliament will approve the exact borders of a buffer zone between pro-Russian separatists and security forces in eastern Ukraine.

Poroshenko said on Ukrainian TV that the buffer zone is part of the Minsk agreements, signed in early September to end five months of fighting.

Poroshenko added that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) would provide drones and personnel from France and Germany to monitor the cease-fire.

The cease-fire ended most fighting between the two sides although battles at the Donetsk airport, in the south near the city of Mariupol, and in villages near the city of Luhansk continue on an almost daily basis.

It is hoped that the some 15-kilometer buffer zone -- from behind which all large artillery and other heavy weapons are to be withdrawn -- will bring an end to the intermittent fighting that continues each day and causes casualties.

Ukraine's military said two soldiers were killed in such fighting on October 18.

The UN says more than 3,700 people have died in six months of fighting in eastern Ukraine, with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes.

With reporting by Reuters and TASS