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Ukraine Naftogaz says to settle gas bill on Thursday

  Ukraine’s national energy company Naftogaz said it will complete payment for Russian gas supplies in February on Thursday after settling most of the bill the day before.

Officials from Naftogaz and Russian giant Gazprom had expressed concern that a raid by Ukraine’s security forces on the Ukrainian company could create problems with payments and raise the prospect of a new stand-off with Russia.

President Viktor Yushchenko praised the raid as lawful but his rival Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko denounced the action and said it was aimed at disrupting the gas system and Naftogaz’s ability to pay for imports.

“We will complete the transaction by the end of the day,” Naftogaz spokesman Valentyn Zemlyanski said. He said the payment amounted to $360 million, lower than a $400 million figure cited by some officials. Naftogaz said on Wednesday it had paid 80% of that figure. (Reuters)