President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Russia and Ukraine have negotiated a deal to end their gas dispute. "We have heard from our partners that the settlement of the debt will begin shortly," Putin said after talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko. Gazprom had threatened to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine starting at 6 p.m. (1500 GMT) Tuesday if an agreement was not reached. The prospect raised concerns in European Union nations, which experienced disruptions in gas supplies transiting Ukraine during a similar cutoff in January 2006. Yushchenko confirmed that a solution to the dispute has been negotiated. He said the gas price for Ukraine this year will remain at last year's level of US$179 per 1,000 cubic meters.