Dec. 19 - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich says he had to accept a $15 billion aid package from Russia because of high gas prices and debt repayments to the IMF, and that the package does not contradict a policy of integration with Europe. Jillian Kitchener reports.
Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich says a loan deal with Russia is beneficial for his country's economy. He says he accepted a $15 billion aid package from Russia because of high gas prices and debt repayments to the IMF, and that the aid from Moscow doesn't contradict his policy of European integration. (SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT, VIKTOR YANUKOVICH, SAYING: "There are no contradictions in the course of Ukraine for any (European) integration. In fact, we are talking not about integration but about economic relations. We didn't discuss (in Moscow with Putin) any integration issues either regarding European integration or regarding the customs union." Mass protests were sparked in Kiev at the end of November, when Yanukovich decided not to sign a trade agreement with the European Union - saying he would sign when the terms were right. Demonstrators continue to camp out in Kiev's Independence Square, fighting for a future with the EU. Russia agreed to buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian Eurobonds and cut the price Kiev pays for Russian gas. Russia's President Vladimir Putin said his country had to help its "brotherly" neighbor Ukraine out of an economic crisis. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, VLADIMIR PUTIN, SAYING: "We often use a combination of words, a 'brotherly country', a 'brotherly nation. Today we see that Ukraine is in a difficult economic, social and political situation. This situation arose because of various circumstances and reasons, but it is an objective one. And if we really mean that it is a 'brotherly nation' and a 'brotherly country' we have to act as close relatives and support the Ukrainian people in this difficult situation." Putin said Moscow did not oppose Kiev signing a trade pact with Europe as long as it did not harm Russia's economy.