MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia may ease the terms of its gas supplies to Ukraine, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told Reuters, but he said that sooner or later Kiev would have to pay for the gas Moscow is supplying to rebel-held areas of east Ukraine.
A supply deal to cover the winter months expires on March 31, along with a discount of $100 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas imported by Kiev and a suspension of the take-or-pay requirement written into the contract.
In an interview with Reuters, Novak said Russia was open to prolonging those concessions even without a new deal, which has been referred to as a "summer package", for the period after March 31.
"A discount is possible under the contract as well - no separate (summer) packages are needed if Ukraine and Russia reach an agreement. Take-or-pay (suspension)... is also possible, it depends on the talks between companies," Novak said.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Katya Golubkova, Darya Korsunskaya, Anastasia Lyrchikova, Olesya Astakhova and Christian Lowe; Editing by Alexander Winning)