* PM Putin meets PM Tymoshenko for gas talks in Poland
* Russia agrees to reduce gas sales to Ukraine
* Tymoshenko invites Putin to Ukraine before election
(Recasts, adds Putin spokesman)
By Denis Dyomkin
SOPOT, Poland, Sept 1 Russian Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin agreed on Tuesday to let Kiev import much less
gas than previously arranged, saving Ukraine's economy from
potentially huge fines before an election early next year.
The deal, struck at talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister
Yulia Tymoshenko, allows Ukraine to slash the volumes it had
originally agreed to take after a row with Moscow that led to
the worst disruption of European Union supplies in decades.
"We feel that all the crisis-inducing occurrences in this
sphere have gone," Tymoshenko said after talks with Putin in the
Polish seaside resort of Sopot.
"We have together with Vladimir Vladimirovich (Putin)
discussed again the size of Ukrainian demand for Russian gas and
the position of the Russian prime minister is very important --
Ukraine will pay for the gas that it needs," she said.
Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM), the world's biggest natural gas
company, supplies a quarter of the European Union's gas and most
of this goes through pipelines across Ukraine.
Putin said the two prime ministers had "agreed that the
current global financial crisis ... must be taken into account
in our bills and supplies".
"We'll give the order to the companies to respect the
circumstances. We understand that the Ukrainian economy uses
only that which it needs today," he said.
Diplomats say they are closely watching the relationship
between former Kremlin chief Putin and Tymoshenko, the most
popular Ukrainian politician now holding office, ahead of
Ukraine's Jan. 17 presidential election.
Moscow is eager to extend Russian business interests in
Ukraine, Gazprom's largest consumer, promised after the gas
row in January to buy 40 billion cubic metres (bcm) this year
and over 50 bcm next year, according to Ukrainian officials.
But officials say the deep economic recession means Ukraine
needs only 32-33 bcm of gas this year and 25-27 bcm next year --
half the contracted amount.
"Our meeting was very important for Ukraine," Tymoshenko
said with a smile. "Our next meeting will take place in October
and we plan it in Ukraine. I invite you and your team."
Tymoshenko's warmer ties with Russia over recent months have
prompted speculation that Moscow may be backing her in the
election to gain influence over the former Soviet republic.
"We always have something to speak about," said Putin.
"Traditionally, attention is focused on energy but besides this,
there are other areas of our cooperation."
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said after the talks that
the election in Ukraine had not been discussed at the meeting.
(Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Ukraine)
(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Dmitry Zhdannikov, editing by