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Tymoshenko Brushes Off Payment Concern

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said Saturday that her country would have no trouble paying for gas deliveries next month, responding to comments a day earlier from Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller.

“We’ve been hearing such announcements ahead of the end of every month for at least a year, and we, Ukraine, are clearly and assuredly conducting our financial life in the crisis,” she told reporters Saturday, Interfax reported.

On Friday, Miller cast doubt on Ukraine’s ability to pay, saying Kiev had already started cutting deliveries and raising fears of a possible repeat of New Year’s gas disputes that have led to supply cuts in Europe.

Ukraine has been regularly paying its gas bills this year, but the December bill, due by Jan. 11, was expected to soar to $1 billion, from $770 million in November, because of low temperatures.

“We assess the situation with payments for Russian natural gas deliveries in December as very alarming,” Miller told state television. “In the middle of December, there was a trend of a reduction of gas off-take, which confirms that Ukraine is facing serious difficulties with [future] gas payments.”

State-run Transneft has also scrapped January oil exports via Ukrainian ports, traders said Friday.

(Reuters, MT)

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