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Moscow Pressures Ukraine Over Gas Payments

A gas pipe at an underground gas storage facility in the Ukrainian village of Mryn
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says Russia will ask Ukraine to start prepaying for natural-gas supplies if Kyiv doesn't settle its outstanding debts.

Medvedev's October 29 statement followed a complaint by Aleksei Miller, chief executive of Russian gas giant Gazprom, who said Ukraine had so far failed to pay the $882 million due by October 1 for August deliveries.

Medvedev's statement is seen as the latest attempt by Moscow to put pressure on Ukraine as it hopes to sign a landmark Association Agreement with the European Union next month in Vilnius.

Moscow has been pushing Kyiv to abandon its EU agreement and join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan instead.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the issue of pursuing Ukraine's gas debt "is in no way" related to the EU Association Agreement.

Based on reporting by Interfax, AP, and AFP