MOSCOW, May 27 (Xinhua) -- Russian energy minister said on Tuesday he expected the incoming Ukrainian president to revive stalled negotiations over Russia's natural gas supplies to the country.
"A leadership (in Ukraine) has appeared with whom it is possible to strike deals and to conduct consultation for a certain period," Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told the state-run Russia-24 TV channel.
Preliminary official results showed Petro Poroshenko, a 48-year-old billionaire and independent politician, retained a strong lead in Sunday's presidential election.
Novak said the European Union (EU) had softened its position over the gas issue, because the bloc was interested in reliable transit of Russian fuel via Ukrainian territory.
The EU has been seeking some compromise, the minister said, calling the European side "not a referee but a partner" in search of a solution to Ukraine's economic problems.
Earlier in the month, Kiev struck deals with the EU for loans worth more than 1.85 billion U.S. dollars for state building and economic reforms.
Also on Tuesday, chief of the Russian gas giant Gazprom, Alexei Miller, said Kiev had agreed to consider paying off part of its multi-billion debt.
"The Ukrainian side (Naftogaz company) agreed to consider payment of 2 billion U.S. dollars by Friday," Miller told Russia-24.
According to Gazprom, Kiev must also pay 500 million dollars for May supplies.
Gazprom threatened to shut down the gas pipeline to Ukraine on June 3 unless Naftogaz makes advance payment for June consignment.
In mid-May, Gazprom informed Naftogaz that supplies of gas will be conducted under prepay option starting June. Under that scheme, Naftogaz must prepay to the Russian supplier 1.659 billion dollars before June 2 for 3.42 billion cubic meters of gas.
In 2010, Russia and Ukraine signed a gas-for-fleet agreement, under which Moscow offered a discount for gas in exchange for extending its lease of the Black Sea fleet in Crimea for another 25 years.
In April, Moscow declared the pact no longer valid as Crimea joined Russia in March.
Following the announcement, Gazprom canceled discounts on gas supplies to Ukraine and set a price tag of 485 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters, which Kiev has called overpriced and temporarily suspended gas imports.
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