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Kiev seeks to buy gas from Europe after Russia cut-off

A Ukrainian delegation will travel on Tuesday to Budapest in a bid to woo European firms into selling them gas, state-own group Naftogaz said, after Moscow cut supplies to Kiev.

KIEV: A Ukrainian delegation will travel on Tuesday to Budapest in a bid to woo European firms into selling them gas, state-own group Naftogaz said on Monday, after Moscow cut supplies to Kiev.

"European companies are ready to provide gas to Ukraine. They have offered gas at a good price of US$320" per 1,000 cubic metres, Naftogaz chief executive Andriy Kobolev said, according to the government's website.

Kobolev added that Naftogaz is already a client of German group RWE and French firm Gaz de France.

"We also have offers coming from other similarly large companies," he said.

The chief executive of Russian energy giant Gazprom has said that it would be illegal for European firms to sell gas imports from Russia to Ukraine.

European companies "do not have the right to do that," he told Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

Ukraine receives half its gas from Russia and transports 15 percent of the fuel consumed in Europe.

Russia's state gas giant Gazprom said it had switched Ukraine to a pre-payment system, a move that effectively halts all shipments because Kiev and Moscow are in a dispute over unpaid debts.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called the measure "another stage of Russia's aggression against the Ukrainian state".

Yatsenyuk had said ahead of the cut-off that Ukraine would diversify its energy sources by buying gas from Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

Russia had hiked its gas price to US$485 from US$268 per 1,000 cubic metres after pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted.

Following weeks of negotiations, Moscow offered US$385 per 1,000 cubic metres as its final price.

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