With accord that includes $15B bailout, Ukraine, Russia cozier
Published: Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, 8:54 p.m.
MOSCOW — Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich has secured a $15 billion bailout from Russia, offering respite for an economy heading ever closer to default but drawing accusations he has sold his country out to its former Soviet master.
By grasping the lifeline thrown by Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Yanukovich reignited demands for his resignation by opponents at home enraged by his decision to walk away from a trade and political deal with the European Union.
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Kiev after Yanukovich accepted Putin's offer on Tuesday to buy Ukrainian bonds and cut the price of Russian gas exports, a deal which keeps Kiev firmly in Moscow's orbit.
“We want to go towards Europe, not Russia; that's our choice,” said Yulia, a student protester, when news of the agreement struck.
Opposition leaders have called for mass rallies during the holiday season in a central square occupied for weeks by protesters, who have pitched tents behind tall barricades.
“He has given up Ukraine's national interests, given up independence,” Vitaly Klitschko, an opposition leader and heavyweight boxing champion, told the crowd.
Ukraine urgently needs money to cover an external funding gap of $17 billion next year — almost the level of the central bank's depleted currency reserves — and avoid defaulting on its debts.
Underlining the depth of the problem, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Moscow would buy $3 billion worth of Ukrainian Eurobonds as early as the end of this week, marking the first installment in debt purchases that will total $15 billion.
The United States warned Kiev the deal would not satisfy the protesters, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said ties with Russia should not prevent Kiev from looking West.
“At the moment, it seems to be an either-or proposition. ... We need to put an end to this,” Merkel told ARD TV. “A bidding competition won't solve the problem.”
Ukraine is caught between Western powers, keen to coax the country into an embrace on the EU's borders, and Moscow, which has historically held sway over Kiev.
Putin seems determined to stop Ukraine, by far the most populous former Soviet republic after Russia, from building a close relationship with the EU.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Egyptian jails overrun with flood of detentions
- Scrutiny focuses on missing Malaysia Airlines plane’s pilots
- U.S. delivers Hellfire missiles, ammunition to Iraq to battle terrorists
- Pro-European Union party wins big in Serbian election
- Key town of Yabroud falls to Syrian government forces as rebels flee to Lebanon
- 16 killed in stampedes for jobs in Nigeria
- Malnutrition haunts Syrian children
- Pistorius’ former friend tells of fits of anger
- Ukraine leader ousted; foe freed
- Ukraine leader ousted; foe freed
- Captured drug lord Guzman fled from police in Mexico sewers