* Naftogaz says pays up debt of $1.52 bln for gas supplies
* Ukrainian state banks loan money, c.bank gives guarantee
* Gazprom says not seen money yet
By Tanya Mosolova and Pavel Polityuk
MOSCOW/KIEV, Dec 30 Ukraine said on Tuesday it
had fully paid its gas debt to Russia, but Russia said it did
not yet have the money and talks continued to avoid a
threatened Jan. 1 gas cut-off that could disrupt supplies to
Russia has said it will turn off the taps to Ukraine if it
does not receive $2 billion in arrears and conclude a new
supply deal, a threat that has alarmed European states which
receive their Russian gas via pipelines passing through
State energy firm Naftogaz said late in the evening that
$1.52 billion had reached the accounts of RosUkrEnergo, a
"We have confirmation from banks that $1.522 billion is in
the accounts of RosUkrEnergo," a spokesman told Reuters. "The
payment has been made. Our debt has been paid off," he said.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said earlier the
payment made was for Russian gas supplied in November and an
advance payment for December supplies.
"All impediments have therefore been removed for concluding
a mutually beneficial and constructive agreement with our
Russian partners for supplies of imported gas for Ukrainian
consumers in 2009," Yushchenko said in a statement.
Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom said earlier it had
not received any money yet: "It is too early to talk about debt
repayment," spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told Reuters.
It was unavailable for comment after Naftogaz' statement.
A Ukraine government decree said Naftogaz would borrow up
to $2 billion from two state banks and the country's central
bank said it has taken measures allowing the repayment to
Russia to take place.
Russia and Ukraine have yet to agree on the price of gas
for 2009, a stumbling block that even if the debt is repaid,
Gazprom could still go through with its threat to switch off
the gas to its neighbour.
There was also uncertainty about the amount that Ukraine
was to repay, since the two sides dispute the size of the
The two countries have been trading accusations daily in
what is their fourth gas row in as many years, with Ukraine
saying it owes less than the $2 billion Russia is claiming and
that the price of gas that Russia wants to set for 2009 is too
Europe, which receives a quarter of its gas from Russia --
mainly via pipelines running across Ukrainian territory -- has
called on both sides to reach a compromise.
A supply cut in January 2006 after a similar row between
Kiev and Moscow briefly affected European consumers.
Gazprom plans to hold a news conference at 1100 GMT on
Gazprom has warned European customers it fears Ukraine
could resume what it has in the past described as siphoning gas
from transit pipelines. Kiev says it will respect all its
obligations and that it has enough reserves in underground
storage to withstand a cut.
The dispute is being played out as the economies of both
countries grapple with the effects of the global financial
Many analysts have said that Ukraine, struggling with a
mounting financial crisis that has not been resolved by an
International Monetary Fund loan, will struggle to pay the
Gazprom, which on Tuesday reported its results for the
second quarter [ID:nLU10241], said it is being forced to
refinance foreign debt with new, more expensive loans.
With total outstanding loans of $60 billion, Gazprom is
Russia's most indebted company, and an inability to refinance
as easily as in the past would put additional pressure on the
gas giant to demand Ukraine pay up.
Kiev pays $179.50 per 1,000 cubic metres compared with $500
in Europe, where gas and oil prices are set to decline.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller warned Ukraine on Monday he could
start charging market prices from 2009, which would result in a
price jump to $418. Ukraine wants to switch to market prices
gradually, but in exchange Gazprom wants concessions from
(Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Christian Wiessner)