Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he hopes a deal will soon be signed to allow EU monitors to deploy to Ukraine to track the transit of Russian gas to Europe.
Putin said that an agreement spelling out the terms of the observers work in Ukraine is essential for resuming Russian gas shipments across Ukraine. They were halted Wednesday.
Putin told visiting Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek Saturday that the deal was necessary to control the flow of gas to Europe. Moscow has accused Ukraine of stealing Russian gas intended for Europe.
Ukraine has hotly denied the claims. It accepted the EU observer mission and agreed to Moscow's demand to include Russian observers in the team. But Russian and Ukrainian officials continued to argue over other details of the deal.