Updated 9:58 p.m. Moscow Time
ST. PETERSBURG, October 7 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine will not be able to fill its underground gas storage facilities with 18-20 billion cubic meters of natural gas necessary to sustain winter and ensure uninterrupted transit, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller said Tuesday.
"As to the time left until the start of [the winter] consumption period, Ukraine will certainly not be able to fill in time its underground storage facilities with at least 18 billion [cubic meters], or better - 20 billion," Miller told reporters.
Earlier on Tuesday, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said the date of the next round of Russia-Ukraine-European Union gas talks could be announced "in the next day or two".
Russia and Ukraine have been negotiating the date of the next meeting for the past few days, as Kiev is unsatisfied with the winter package proposed by Moscow and the European Commission during a ministerial gas meeting held in Berlin on September 26.
According to the plan, Ukraine would have to repay $3.1 billion of its gas debt to Russia and pay in advance for the delivery of five billion cubic meters of gas over a period of six months at a discounted price of $385 per 1,000 cubic meters.
Kiev, however, rejects Russia's offer of the discount in the form of an export-duty exemption and wants the contract price to be reduced instead.
Ukraine also wants to agree a debt repayment schedule and insists on amending the current gas contract with Russia in order to formally authorize reverse supplies of Russian gas to Ukraine from Europe.
In June, Russia's gas giant Gazprom was forced to introduce a prepayment system for gas deliveries to Ukraine due to Kiev's massive debt which is currently estimated to stand at $5.3 billion.
The European Union has repeatedly highlighted the importance of trilateral talks over the gas issue, fearing potential troubles with gas transit via Ukraine.