Kiev Fails to Meet Gas Debt Deadline

Talks on Ukraine's debt for natural gas will continue Wednesday after the country failed to fully meet a repayment deadline, Gazprom said Tuesday.

Ukraine's state energy firm Naftogaz Ukrainy paid $300 million to repay a debt to Gazprom for deliveries of Russian gas in September, Kommersant-Ukraine reported Tuesday.

An additional $250 million was to be paid Tuesday, the newspaper reported. Gazprom has said Ukraine's debt totals $2.4 billion and should be paid by Jan. 1.

In Kiev, President Viktor Yushchenko formed a "strategic group" to improve relations with Russia.

"This strategic group will work out a mechanism for a dialogue of constant action," Raisa Bogatyryova, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, told reporters.

(Reuters, Bloomberg)