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Putin Says Russia Won't Use Gas To Pressure Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with the head of gas giant Gazprom and said Russia will not use the price of gas as an instrument to pressure Ukraine.

Putin told Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller the price of gas for Ukraine should be consistent with the price Ukraine's neighbors pay.

Russia was criticized last year for hiking the price of gas to Ukraine to a rate that was some $100 higher than the world market price.

Putin also told Miller that Gazprom should ensure uninterrupted supplies to "all partners, especially in the southeast of Ukraine," an apparent reference to the Luhansk and Donetsk regions currently controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Miller said Gazprom had withdrawn the "take or pay" clause from gas agreements with Ukraine, which required Ukraine to pay for all the gas it signed contracts for whether Ukraine took all the gas or not.

Miller also said the price of gas for Ukraine as of April 1 was $247 per 1,000 cubic meters and that price included a discount.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax