News / Europe

Kyiv Protesters Gather, EU Dangles Aid Promise

Pro-European integration protestors wave flags in Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 12, 2013.
Pro-European integration protestors wave flags in Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 12, 2013.
Reuters
Thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in central Kyiv, rebuilding barricades torn down by police, on Thursday as the European Union held out a promise of increased aid for Ukraine if it signed a trade and cooperation pact.
 
Ukraine's first deputy prime minister Serhiy Arbuzov flew to Brussels with a high-level delegation seeking billions of euros of aid from the EU in return for signing the agreement, which Kyiv suddenly backed away from last month.
 
He said Ukraine, which is on the brink of bankruptcy, would “soon sign” the accord, but declined to provide any date.
 
EU enlargement chief Stefan Fuele pledged more aid to Kiev if it signed the agreement, and to help it negotiate a loan from the IMF, but gave no figures.
 
After hours of talks with Arbuzov, Fuele warned that Ukraine faced looming financial crisis.
 
“We need to help Ukraine to restore rapidly the confidence not only of its citizens, but also that of international investors and creditors as a stable and predictable economy,” he told reporters.
 
Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov was quoted as saying on Wednesday he had asked the EU for 20 billion euros ($27 billion) in aid to offset the cost of signing the EU deal.
 
A sudden decision by President Viktor Yanukovych on Nov. 21 to walk away from a trade-and-political agreement with the EU and revive trade with Ukraine's old Soviet master has brought hundreds of thousands on to the streets in a chain of weekend rallies, each one larger than the one before it.
 
Russian President Vladimir Putin, concerned protests could yet induce Yanukovych to seal the trade agreement with the EU to Moscow's detriment, painted a picture of a secure future for Ukraine in a Russian-led alliance.
 
“Our integration project is based on equal rights and real economic interests,” said Putin, referring to a customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan which he plans to develop into a political and trading bloc to be known as the Eurasian Union.
 
“I'm sure achieving Eurasian integration will only increase interest [in it] from our other neighbors, including from our Ukrainian partners ... I hope that all political sides can successfully reach an agreement in the interests of the Ukrainian people,” he said in a state-of-the-nation address.
 
A decision to sign the EU deal after all would be likely to infuriate Moscow.
 
European officials are in discussion with the IMF, the World Bank and other major financial bodies on ways of helping the ex-Soviet republic should it decide to sign the free-trade agreement with the EU after all.
 
Putin had threatened to respond to such a deal with economic sanctions against Ukraine, which has huge debts and unpaid gas bills outstanding with Moscow. Ukraine's ultimate decision could be decisive to Putin's Eurasian Union plan.
 
Battalions of riot police withdrew on Wednesday from a protest camp in central Kiev after moving against demonstrators in the early hours in an angry confrontation.
 
Streaming In
 
But more people were streaming into the snowbound capital for the weekend to boost the 10,000 or so crammed onto Independence Square, focal point of the unrest. About 70,000 extra people from three areas of western Ukraine alone were heading for the capital, citizens' protest  groups said.
 
Demonstrators have re-built barricades, torn down by police, using public benches, metal barriers and wire-netting to fence off the square, known simply as the 'Maidan' in the revolutionary lexicon.
 
The protests began as pro-Europe demonstrations but have now morphed into a broader show of street anger against perceived corruption and sleaze in the country Yanukovich has led for nearly four years.
 
After his talks with Arbuzov, Fuele said that, if Ukraine gave a clear commitment to sign the deal, the EU would prepare a roadmap for implementing the accord.
 
If Ukraine signed, the EU was ready to help it by topping up IMF loans and stepping up financial aid, Fuele said.
 
EU aid to Ukraine would only get “bigger and bigger” if it signed the agreement, he said without giving figures.
 
Arbuzov was joined in Brussels by the ministers of finance, economy and revenue and duties, and the central bank head.
 
At stake is the future of a country of 46 million people, torn between popular hope of joining the European mainstream and the demands of Russia, which controls the flow of cheap natural gas needed to stave off bankruptcy.
 
After Yanukovych met Putin on Dec. 6, Azarov said the two sides had agreed a strategic partnership.
 
Some believe that Yanukovych may sign a series of agreements - almost certainly bringing cheaper gas for Ukraine and possibly credits - in Moscow on Dec. 17.
 
The crisis has added to the financial hardship of a country on the brink of bankruptcy. The cost of insuring Ukraine's debt against default has hit four-year highs.
 
It now costs more than $1 million a year for five years to insure $10 million in Ukrainian debt over that term, reflecting high default risk.
 
The most Brussels has so far offered is 610 million euros in macro-economic assistance.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid