June 2 - Russia's Gazprom has given Ukraine an extra week to resolve a gas price dispute at the heart of the two countries' confrontation. As Sonia Legg reports the delay will take the pressure off President Putin as he prepares to attend D-Day events with other world leaders later this week.
The gas supply between Russia and Ukraine is still flowing - for now. Another deadline has come and gone - Ukraine has another week to pay up. Russia increased prices after the pro-Russian President Victor Yanokovich fled Ukraine. It's now a key issue in the crisis, with Gazprom saying Ukraine owes more than $5 billion. On the ground, pro-Russian separatists are claiming that five people died in an air strike on their regional administration in Luhansk. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow's had enough and wants the U.N. Security Council to intervene. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, SERGEI LAVROV, SAYING: "Our Western colleagues have been telling us for quite a long time that as soon as the presidential election is held in Ukraine the situation will calm down. But exactly the opposite is happening." The decision not to turn off the taps will at least make President Putin's trip to Europe for World War Two D-Day commemorations a little less awkward. He's due to attend events with Ukraine's new President-elect Petro Poroshenko and other world leaders. It will still be diplomatically delicate. And James Hughes from Alpari says with the ECB considering interest rates around the same time the euro zone is on tenterhooks. (SOUNDBITE) (English): JAMES HUGHES, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, ALPARI, SAYING: "This is one of the most important weeks we've had in the euro zone for a number of years. By the time we get to the end of this week a lot will be clearer from a politcal point of view and from an economic point of view exactly where the euro zone is going and whether the people at the top are doing the right thing." Poroshenko has vowed to fight the uprising - and Putin has pulled back some of troops he had massed on Ukraine's border. He says he is prepared to work with the Ukrainian leader. But investors aren't holding their breath. (SOUNDBITE) (English): JAMES HUGHES, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, ALPARI, SAYING: "The whole Russia Ukraine situation - it's not just the gas situation - it is all of the issues ongoing. The talk is always there but when it comes to action nobody acts - Russia doesn't act, Ukraine doesn't act, no-one in the west acts and we are left in this stalemate situation which I see going on for quite a while." Ukraine is hoping the same can be said for the gas supply. A partial payment of almost $800 million has been made. But at current prices it's using gas at a rate of $1 billion a month.