Gazprom toughens position in Ukraine gas dispute

Russia's state-controlled gas company said it is increasing the price it wants Ukraine to pay for natural gas, hardening its position in a dispute that has decreased supplies to Europe. Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said Sunday that the company wanted $450 per 1,000 cubic meters, up from its last offer of $418. Ukraine's state gas company accused Gazprom of being unwilling to seek a compromise and said any price increase should be accompanied by a similar hike in the fee Ukraine gets from Russia to move gas through its pipelines on to European customers. Russia's tough stance in the negotiations may reflect both political and economic considerations. Gazprom, which once aspired to be the largest corporation in the world, has been hit hard by the financial crisis and is deep in debt.