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Apr 9, 9:18 AM EDT

Russia threatens it could ask Ukraine for advance payment for gas

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MOSCOW (AP) -- President Vladimir Putin has threatened that Russia's state-owned gas company could ask Ukraine to pay for gas in advance, according to Russian state news agencies.

In a meeting Wednesday with government ministers, Putin said that asking for advance payments "corresponded with the contract" between Ukraine and Russia, but asked that state energy giant Gazprom refrain from such drastic measures until "additional consultations" between both sides.

Russia has tightened the economic screws on Ukraine since its Russia-leaning president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from power in February after months of street protests. Last week, Gazprom said it would be scrapping all discounts on gas to Ukraine, meaning a 70 percent price hike that will add to Ukraine's $2.2 billion in gas arrears.

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