MOSCOW, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Gazprom is ready to provide flexible terms for gas deliveries to Ukraine during the upcoming winter period, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.
"[The Friday talks] were centered not around the summer or winter [gas prices], but around the next five months. There is nothing settled outside the five-month period. For the next five months, before the end of March <…> it is agreed that Ukraine will be able to buy as much gas as it needs, and Gazprom is ready to provide quite flexible terms in this regard," the minister said.
According to the Russian Energy Ministry, the Russian and Ukrainian leaders reached a preliminary agreement on Kiev's payment of its gas debt to Russia during talks at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) forum in Milan last week. Ukraine is to pay $1.45 billion of the debt in October and another $1.65 billion by the end of 2014. The parties also agreed on the temporary price of $385 per 1,000 cubic meters for the winter season.
In addition, the European Commission should help Ukraine find $1.6 billion by the end of the year as a bridge loan or as a guarantee of the top rank financial institutions.
Ukraine is now facing the forthcoming winter with low natural gas reserves. In June, Gazprom switched Kiev to a prepayment system for gas supplies in light of its massive gas debt, in excess of $5 billion.
The next round of trilateral gas talks between Russia, Ukraine and the European Union is scheduled for October 21.