Ukraine asks EU to mediate in gas dispute with Russia

Moscow  - Ukraine asked the European Union to mediate in the escalating dispute with Russia on gas deliveries, as talks failed ahead of a 8.00 am (0700 GMT) cut-off date, a Ukrainian official said.

Bogdan Sokolovsky, Ukraine's representative for energy security said his country asked the EU to mediate, the Interfax news agency reported from Kiev.

Russia is set to stop gas delivery as of 8 am on New Year's Day, if both countries fail to agree on new fees for gas deliveries.

Russia by Wednesday evening was offering gas at a price of 250 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres, a substantial rise over the current rate of 179 dollars, but well below 300 to 350 dollar rates prevailing in Europe.

Ukraine's government on Thursday morning offered a price of 201 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres.

Russian export monopolist Gazprom said it would continue to deliver natural gas to Europe through Ukrainian pipelines.

Experts said that full storage sites guaranteed supply for the time being. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko reassured EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday that gas transit would continue uninterrupted, but Gazprom claimed that Ukraine's Naftogas threatened to seize transit gas deliveries. (dpa)