Dec 19, 2013

By Jane Brown

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Ukraine’s President says his government may partially commit to a Russian economic union, which has been denounced in mass protests against the government. Viktor Yanukovych is also warning foreign governments against meddling in the country’s internal affairs, in an apparent swipe at the West. Speaking in a televised interview today, Yanukovych said it was unacceptable “for someone to be coming here and to teaching us how to live.” The comments were apparently aimed at top Western diplomats who have recently visited and expressed support for the massive anti-government demonstrations that have rocked Kyiv for nearly a month. The comments came two days after Yanukovych received a major bailout from Russia in order to keep the struggling Ukrainian economy afloat. The Moscow accords were condemned by the opposition as betrayal of national interests.

Meantime, Russia’s President insists his country’s $15-billion bailout for Ukraine is driven by a desire to help a partner in a desperate situation and is not linked to its talks with the European Union. Vladimir Putin told a news conferencetoday that Russia decided to buy $15-billion worth of Ukrainian securities anddramatically cutthe price for Russian natural gas shipments to Ukraine to help a “brotherly” nation. He adds that the move is driven in part by pragmatic considerations, as Ukraine has been an important customer for Russian gas and a key partner in industrial co-operation since Soviet times.

(The Associated Press)

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