EU Should Help Ukraine Avoid New Gas Price War: Gazprom

MOSCOW, Russia -- Russian gas giant Gazprom called on the European Union Thursday to help Ukraine with payments for gas supplies to avoid a repeat of the dispute that saw supplies cut in January.

Russian Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller

"For the moment we can still avoid a gas crisis in Ukraine," said Gazprom chief Alexei Miller in a statement. "For that, Europe and Russia have to invest together to prevent it. There is no time to lose."

For several days now, Russia has been warning of the possibility of a repeat of the dispute with Ukraine over payments last winter.

Since the gas for many other European countries passes through Ukraine, when Russia cut supplies in January, it caused severe shortages in eastern EU states for two weeks until the row was resolved.

Russia has said that Ukraine's state gas company Naftogaz does not have the means to buy gas this summer with a view to stocking it in underground reservoirs for the winter.

Last Friday, Russia President Dmitry Medvedev called on the European Union to work with Moscow to help Ukraine meet its payments.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is very close to Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said Thursday he would back the Russian initiative at the next meeting of European Union leaders in June.

Source: AFP