Ukraine could stop importing natural gas from Russia before the end of this year due to falling domestic energy demand, Energy and Coal Industry Minister Eduard Stavytsky said Wednesday.
"We believe that by the end of the year we can dispense with buying Russian gas," Stavytsky told a news briefing here.
He said the Ukraine did not need much fuel as it had nearly halved its gas consumption in recent times due to unusually warm weather.
Ukraine, which is paying nearly 400 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic meters of Russian gas, is seeking to reduce its gas consumption by around 10 percent to 50 billion cubic meters this year.
Kiev planned to buy 27.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2013, with 18 billion cubic meters coming from Russia.
Under a contract between Ukraine's state-run Naftogaz and Russia's Gazprom, Kiev agreed to buy 52 billion cubic meters of gas per year or pay for a minimum of 80 percent of that volume, regardless of the actual amount taken.