MOSCOW- Russian natural gas producer Gazprom announced a more than 40 percent increase in the price Ukraine must pay for gas on Tuesday, stepping up economic pressure on Kiev in its political standoff with Moscow.
Ukraine will now have to pay $385.5 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas in the second quarter, an increase form $268.5 that was agreed in December, before the ouster of Ukraine's Moscow-backed president and Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Gazprom's Chief Executive Officer, Alexei Miller, said the increase was needed because Ukraine's debt for unpaid gas bills now stood at $1.7 billion.
"The December discount for gas cannot be applied anymore," Miller said, adding that the transportation tariff for Gazprom's gas to Europe via Ukraine was increasing by 10 percent, in line with earlier agreements.
Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in December to cut the gas price for Ukraine and provide a financial lifeline to Kiev after its abrupt decision not to sign a trade agreement with the European Union and rebuild economic ties with Moscow instead.