Russia is reportedly on the cusp of agreeing to a major loan guarantee for economically troubled Ukraine in an effort to keep the former Soviet republic in its sphere of influence, even as anti-government protesters in Kiev push for closer ties with Europe.
"An aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested a credit would be agreed at talks with [Ukraine President Viktor] Yanukovich in Moscow on Tuesday, and Ukraine's energy minister said a deal was also very probable on lower prices for Russian gas."
"Yanukovich has turned to Moscow for money after spurning the chance of joining a free trade pact with the EU, despite the risk of protests against him swelling. He also visited China this month as he sought the best deal for his country."
"'The situation in Ukraine is now such that without loans, from one side or another, they will simply fail to maintain economic stability,' Andrei Belousov, an economic adviser to Putin, told Interfax news agency. 'I do not rule out that, if there is a request, a credit could be provided (to Ukraine).'"
The Associated Press writes:
"Analysts say that if President Vladimir Putin offers anything to Ukraine, one of Europe's poorest countries, it could be a mix of credit, investment pledges, and a discount on energy prices, particularly natural gas."
"But the Russian leader may not be generous, given the crisis being endured by Yanukovych and his ruling party and the flip-flopping by Ukraine's leadership about whether its allegiance lies with Moscow or Brussels."