Saturday, January 31, 2015   

Kiev ups stakes in Russian gas standoff
(06-12 18:44)

Ukraine stuck to its guns in a fierce gas standoff with Russia that could impact Europe and wreak further havoc on the nation's economy as it battles a separatist insurgency in the east.
Another acrimonious round of EU-mediated talks broke up Wednesday in Brussels with Ukraine calling Russian President Vladimir Putin's offer to lower Kiev's fuel price by more than 20 percent a ''trap''.
The third ''gas war'' between the two neighbors in less than a decade flared when Moscow nearly doubled Kiev's gas rate in the wake of the February ouster of Ukraine's Russian-backed president.
A solution by Monday's debt payment deadline would boost new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's efforts to mend ties with Moscow and enlist Putin's support in resolving a two-month pro-Russian insurgency that has claimed 270 lives.
The Western-backed chocolate baron hinted Wednesday that he was ready to meet separatist leaders who had laid down their arms.
But the militants have so far shown no sign of abandoning their drive to have the economically-vital eastern rust belt -- home to nearly seven million mostly Russian speakers -- come under Kremlin control.--AFP
   
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