Putin, Poroshenko discuss measures to restore peace

Oct 15, 2014, 3:12 AM EDT
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko, EU Vice-President Catherine Ashton pose for a photo during the Summit of EU, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan's Leaders, on August 26, 2014 in Minsk, Belarus.
AFP/Getty Images

A long-running dispute over natural gas supplies will be on the agenda when Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko hold talks in Italy later this week, the Kremlin said. Reuters reports:

A Kremlin statement issued late on Tuesday said the Ukrainian and Russian presidents had spoken by telephone and discussed measures to restore peace in eastern Ukraine.

They are expected to continue discussions on the conflict as well as on the gas dispute on the sidelines of a summit of European and Asian leaders they are both attending in Milan on Oct 16-17.

Russian natural gas producer Gazprom cut supplies to Ukraine in June after Kiev failed to pay gas debts which Russia says have now reached more than $5 billion. Ukraine faces a possibility of energy shortages this winter if no deal is reached, risking a replay of the disruptions to Europe's gas supplies seen in 2006 and 2009.

Europe receives a third of its gas needs from Russia, and around half of it is pumped via Ukraine. Officials from Russia and the European Commission, which is mediating the talks, say a deal could be near. Poroshenko said on Saturday he hoped for "significant progress" on the issue during the talks on Milan.