Russian President Dmitry Medvedev suggested on Sunday that European financial institutions should create a pool to help Ukraine pay for natural gas supplies and Russia was ready to participate in this process. 

"Some analysts say that the economic situation in Ukraine is virtually close to a collapse. If we feel that they are unable to pay, let's create a financial pool and help them with money. I believe this is a way out of the situation for all. There is a group of European financial institutions and we are also ready to participate," Medvedev said in an interview with the Spanish media on the eve of his visit to Spain, RIA Novosti reported. 

In February, Ukraine's national energy company Naftogaz warned it might face problems paying for gas supplied by the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom as Ukrainian utility companies were delaying payments leaving the state-run gas firm short of funds. 

Russian media reports said, citing sources in Gazprom that the monopoly could again cut off gas supplies to Ukraine if $400 million was not transferred by March 7. 

Gazprom suspended gas deliveries to Ukraine on January 1 over non-payments and the two sides' failure to agree a delivery contract for 2009. A week later, Gazprom accused Ukraine of stealing gas intended for EU consumers and cut off gas deliveries to the European Union via the country, prompting two weeks of major gas shortages across much of Eastern Europe. 

The standoff was resolved after negotiations between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Yulia Tymoshenko. The gas supply and transit contract signed on January 19 by Gazprom and Naftogaz stipulates that the Russian energy giant can switch to 100% prepayments if payments are not received on time.


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