Gazprom: No payment received from Ukraine

Moscow - The chief executive of Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom said Wednesday that no payment from Ukraine had been received, despite a threatened New Year's Day cut-off of gas shipments.

Gazprom says it is owed 2 billion dollars by Ukraine, partially for past shipments and partially in late fees.

"Gazprom has not received any money into its accounts in payment for supplies of Russian gas," Alexei Miller said in televised comments. "Ukraine's position in the negotiations is not constructive."

Ukraine's state-controlled Naftogaz says it has transferred 1.5 billion dollars to Rosukrenergo, a Russia-Ukrainian intermediary based in Switzerland, after receiving an emergency credit from state banks.

Another 600 million dollars in penalty fees for late payments of gas from November and December remains disputed by Ukraine.

Miller expressed hope that a deal would be reached, but said that, without one, there would be "no legal basis" for Gazprom to continue gas deliveries in 2009.

Gazprom says it will cut gas supplies to Ukraine from 10 am (0700 GMT) on January 1, if Kiev failed to pay its debt in full.

Miller charged Kiev with "politicizing" ongoing talks in Moscow over the outstanding debt and gas price levels for 2009.

"We see now in negotiations that issues surrounding gas have ceased to be economic and in Ukraine have been used as political change," he was quoted by news agency Interfax as saying.

Ukraine currently pays far less for gas than European clients further downstream.

But Gazprom said it would increase the price to 418 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres from Ukraine under a new contract starting in 2009 if the two countries fail to reach an agreement and switch trade to market terms. Kiev now pays 179.5 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres. (dpa)