( dpa ) - Russian energy giant Gazprom, which has halved gas supplies to Ukraine, urged Kiev Tuesday night to come up with a fast solution to the unresolved payment dispute.
"We appeal to the Ukrainian side to immediately take up negotiations again," said a Gazprom spokesman Tuesday evening in Moscow.
The state-owned Russian natural gas monopolist announced Tuesday that exports to Ukraine would be cut by 50 per cent. Ukrainian officials confirmed almost immediately the reductions had in fact taken place.
In response, Ukrainian government officials threatened to cut back on supplies to Europe that are delivered via Ukrainian pipelines.
Gazprom and Ukraine have been arguing since 2007 on the size of the Ukraine's gas bill - a wrangle complicated by differing opinions on the per unit price Ukraine should pay for fuel, how much Gazprom should pay to ship it to Europe via Ukrainian pipelines, ownership of gas in Ukrainian reserves, and whether or not payments made by Ukraine to middleman companies count as payments to Gazprom.
A similar gas cut-off by Gazprom in late 2005 over a price dispute reduced volumes of fuel delivered to Europe for two days, and forced price spikes as far away as France.