All consumers of Russian gas, including Ukraine, should abide by the simple rule that supplies should be paid for, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday, calling for energy and politics to be kept separate.
At an energy conference, Medvedev took aim at Ukraine and its Western backers over energy talks, but also signalled a possible weariness on the Russian side with a standoff over gas that has raised fears of a new "gas war".
"We are talking about various crisis situations and I want to mention one very simple, almost banal, thing - it is necessary to pay for energy supplies that have been delivered," Medvedev told the conference.
"I hope all countries understand this, all consumers like those present and those who are not present for whatever reason at the forum, including Ukraine. Payments in general should not be linked to politics in any way."
On Wednesday, Russia said it would restart talks with Ukraine if Kiev paid off at least part of its gas debt and signalled Moscow could be open to a price revision, a softening in stance since state-controlled Gazprom almost doubled prices.
Ukraine, which has yet to respond to the proposal, has balked at demands by Russia's Gazprom to pay $485 per 1,000 cubic metres for gas, accusing Moscow of using energy "politically" to punish the country for trying to break free from Kremlin influence and turn to the West.
Kiev says $268.5 per 1,000 cubic metres is a fair price.
At the conference, which brought together ministers from countries in OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Medvedev also took aim at the West, which has imposed sanctions over Russian action in Ukraine.
"We want predictable rules of the game (in the energy market) ... which do not depend on somewhere else and some kind of administration," he said.