Kremlin Prepares Welcome for Yanukovych
Published: December 17, 2013 (Issue # 1790)
The Kremlin on Monday announced that it was offering a raft of substantial deals, including a loan, for Ukraine, whose President Viktor Yanukovych was on his way to Moscow for talks.
President Vladimir Putin is hosting the talks after Ukraine last month abruptly backed out of a landmark agreement that would have tied its future with the European Union — and complicated its trade with Russia.
The reversal triggered massive pro-EU rallies in Kiev's central square and statements of support for the demonstrators from the world's leading democracies. U.S. senators John McCain and Christopher Murphy, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague were the latest Western policy makers to voice their backing.
An economically ailing Ukraine has said it will look to Russia for help to deal with its woes, and the Kremlin indicated it had something in store for Yanukovych who was coming to Moscow for the meeting of a Russia-Ukraine cooperation commission on Tuesday.
"The meeting is expected to result in the signing of a solid package of bilateral agreements," a statement from the Kremlin said Monday.
The statement did not list the agreements, saying only that the countries would look to advance joint projects in such areas as energy, transportation, space and agriculture.
Andrei Belousov, the Kremlin economic aide, said Monday that Russia could also give a loan to Ukraine, which previously rejected the International Monetary Fund's terms for a credit line.
"The situation in Ukraine is now such that without loans, from one side or another, they will simply fail to maintain economic stability," Belousov said, Interfax reported.
Belousov did not say how much Russia was willing to lend to Ukraine, though economists in Kiev have said the country needs at least $10 billion.
Ukrainian Energy Minister Eduard Stavitsky and a pro-government Ukrainian lawmaker, Alexander Yefremov, both said Monday that Russia could express willingness to reduce the price that Ukraine pays for Russian natural gas. The trade in gas to feed Ukraine's power plants and a major chemicals industry has been perhaps the biggest issue in relations between the two countries. Moscow has used Kiev's gas debt in the tussle with Yanukovych to prevent the EU agreement, demanding an immediate settlement of outstanding bills.
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