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3. Russia, Ukraine to discuss gas issue next week

Representatives from Russia and Ukraine will meet on Monday next week to discuss natural gas supplies from Russia. The European Union will mediate the talks.

Russia has warned it may cut off gas supplies to Ukraine unless it pays in advance for gas shipments for March and onward. Officials in Moscow implied that this would also affect gas deliveries to Europe.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday that the upcoming talks will cover all issues related to gas supplies, suggesting a discussion on possible future price increases.

The Russian side said officials will also discuss payments on supplies to the areas controlled by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Russia directly supplies gas to eastern Ukraine to which the government in Kiev has cut off.

Ukraine's state-run gas firm on Friday sent a prepayment of 15 million dollars to Russia, which is worth a day's gas supply. This has helped to prevent a halt of deliveries before the March 2nd meeting.

The Ukrainian government is facing a harsh economic situation. The country's foreign currency reserves plunged to around 6.4 billion dollars as of January. The value of Ukrainian currency also tumbled against the US dollar.
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