(RIA Novosti) - Kiev plans to stick to the natural gas contract it agreed with Moscow at the start of the year, the Ukrainian economy minister told a Russian business daily.

President Dmitry Medvedev told the Gazprom chief on Monday that the Russian energy giant should stop paying Ukraine's transit fees in advance and stick to the January agreement that ended a gas dispute between the former Soviet neighbors.

The deal, which has been repeatedly criticized by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, does not include provisions on advance payments.

"The conflict was resolved after the signing this year of a long-term contract between Gazprom and [Ukrainian energy company] Naftogaz that put an end to non-transparent gas supply schemes. Ukraine intends to honor the terms of the contract," Bohdan Danylyshyn was quoted as saying by Vedomosti on Wednesday.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko reiterated early this week that the bilateral gas contracts signed in January would be intact.

Tymoshenko said Kiev would buy around 25 billion cubic meters in 2010, half the agreed amount of gas stipulated in the 2009-2019 contract. Naftogaz said the transit fee could rise from the current $1.7 to $2.7 per 1,000 cu m per 100 km for Russian gas transits across Ukraine next year.

Russian gas supplies to the EU were interrupted for two weeks in January over a bitter pricing and debt row between Moscow and Kiev. Russia supplies about 80% of its Europe-bound gas via Ukraine.

The Ukrainian economics minister positively assessed the role of the Russian capital in his country's economy and said Ukraine viewed Russia as a strategic partner.

"There is no discrimination against Russian investors. Some 2,000 companies with the Russian capital are active in Ukraine, and the role of the Russian capital in the Ukrainian economy has always been substantial," Danylyshyn said.


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