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President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday, Moscow will fulfill its promise even if Ukraine’s new Cabinet is replaced by opposition politicians.
“We will stand by our partners in Ukraine no matter who leads the Ukrainian government and holds a dialogue with us,” Putin said at the close of the EU-Russia summit in Brussels.
Western media reports had speculated that Russia could reconsider its multibillion-dollar bailout to Kiev after Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov announced his resignation on Tuesday.
Russia and Europe have sparred over Ukraine as each has sought to extend its influence over the former Soviet nation.
Ukraine has been rocked by anti-government protests since November last year after President Viktor Yanukovich backed out from signing an association agreement with the EU.
“You know, there is such a saying that when masters fall out, their men get the clout — this means that common people suffer. We want a minimal burden on citizens,” the Russian president said.
Russia will be monitoring the economic situation in Ukraine because it wants guarantees that it will get the money back, he said.
“Therefore, it is important for us what economic policy they are planning to apply regardless of what political forces will lead the government,” Putin said.
The Russian President was also critical of the presence of EU delegations in Ukraine during protests against the government.
“I can imagine the reaction of our European partners if, in the midst of a crisis in Greece or any other country, our foreign minister would come to an anti-European rally and would urge people to do something,” he said.
“[Western] media did not show it, but we did see that a priest in western Ukraine called on the crowd to go to Kiev and storm the government. And then he explains: ‘That’s in order not to allow niggers, moskals (an insulting word used by Ukrainians to describe Russians), and Jews to rule,’” Putin told reporters after the conference.
Putin however reiterated Moscow’s willingness to better ties with EU. The Russian President reached out to Europe stressing on the need to establish a free-trade zone between the EU and the Moscow-led economic union of former Soviet States.
“As a specific proposal, we have suggested that the EU leadership study the possibility of establishing a free-trade zone between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union, which is currently being established by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan,” Putin said.
“A lot of problems are yet to be discussed, and a lot of issues are to be addressed at an expert and technical level. But I think that we should start thinking about it right now,” he added.
The next EU-Russia summit would be held on June 3, on the eve of the G8 summit in the southern Russian city of Sochi.
TBP and Agencies