MOSCOW - The head of Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom said on Tuesday he didn't expect a new gas war with Ukraine to erupt over the New Year, echoing an earlier statement from the Russian Energy Ministry.

We don't expect any conflicts and problems with payments (from Ukraine for Russian gas), Alexei Miller told reporters.

He also said that Gazprom's gas production will decline by about 90 billion cubic metres (bcm) this year to over 460 bcm.

A dispute between Russia and Ukraine led to gas supplies to Europe being cut off in January 2009, leaving millions of homes without heat at the height of winter and damaging the industry. Europe receives a fifth of its gas from Russia via Ukraine.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, editing by)