EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger. Image courtesy of Jacques Grießmayer/Wikimedia Commons.

A negotiation set up by the EU to resolve the gas supply dispute between Russia and Ukraine has stalled as Russia presses Ukraine to pay its multi-billion dollar bill before talks can start again.

The talks were set to resume Thursday before Russian representatives announced the nation’s gas suppliers wanted Ukraine’s $5.3 billion tab paid off before negotiating the shipment of more gas.

“The European Commission must reach an agreement with Ukraine over the question of financing. Otherwise, negotiations make no sense,” a spokesman for Russian gas giant Gazprom told AFP.

In June, Russia’s Gazprom stopped all gas shipments to Ukraine’s as the two countries disputed the unpaid debt.

Throughout the tense, months long negotiations Gazprom has said it will not resume shipments until the debt is paid.

Earlier this month, EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger helped strike a deal that called for Ukraine pay $3.1 billion by the end of the year to settle its debt.

Under the deal Russia would slash its price for deliveries by 20 percent to $385 per 1,000 cubic meters until March 2015.

The deal quickly fell apart after Ukraine could not come up with the cash and asked the EU to extend it a $2.52 billion loan.

Russian gas accounts for nearly a quarter of the EU’s gas supply. About half of that supply travels through pipelines in Ukraine.

In September, Russia filed a $4.5 billion lawsuit against Ukraine’s state owned Naftogaz in a Stockholm arbitration court.

Naftogaz filed a $6 billion countersuit against Gazprom alleging that the company has not reviewed its pricing in accordance with a price review process established by the companies in 2011, Ukraine news agency Interfax said.

The dispute will be heard by an arbitration judge. A hearing date has not been set yet.


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