April 10, 2010 / 7:36 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Russia may lend $5-6 bln to Ukraine for nuclear build

* PM Putin says could lend cash for new nuclear reactors

* Says needs more time to ponder new gas price deal

(Adds Azarov comment, background)

MOSCOW, April 10 (Reuters) - Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Saturday Russia may lend $5-6 billion to Ukraine to construct two nuclear reactors, while promising to consider a new deal on gas supply prices.

“We discussed co-operation on nuclear energy ... a possibility is to lend $5-6 billion to construct the third and fourth reactors for Khmelnitsky Nuclear Power Station,” Putin said after a meeting with Ukraine’s new Prime Minister Mykola Azarov at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport.

The two prime ministers also discussed the price of Russian gas exports to Ukraine, an issue that has long been a bone of contention between the two countries, but did not reach a new agreement.

Putin said the Ukrainian proposals were interesting.

“I admit we can achieve a solution, to a large extent it is a matter of calculation ... it needs to be worked out,” Putin said.

Azarov, installed following the victory of Viktor Yanukovich in Ukraine’s presidential election earlier this year, said he was hoping for an imminent agreement.

“I hope we can find a solution in coming days,” he said.

Russia and Ukraine last signed an agreement on gas prices in 2009, but the new leadership of the cash-strapped ex-Soviet republic now says the price is too high.

In previous years the issue has threatened to disrupt supplies to the rest of Europe. Around 80 percent of Russian exports to Europe go via Ukraine, although new gas routes are under construction.

Azarov said last week that Russian gas was currently too expensive, and would grind the country’s chemicals industry to a halt if raised too high in the second quarter. [ID:nLDE6360L6]

Ukraine said last week it had agreed to raise gas imports from Russia by 10 percent having agreed last year to cut them to 26.8 billion cubic metres in 2009 from 49 bcm the previous year. [ID:nLDE6371NE]

Reporting by Anton Doroshev, writing by John Bowker and Dmitry Sergeyev

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