News / Economy

Russia Eyes Loan, Gas Deal to Keep Ukraine in its Orbit

Pro-European protesters warm themselves at a fire in front of barricade in central Kyiv, Dec. 16, 2013.
Pro-European protesters warm themselves at a fire in front of barricade in central Kyiv, Dec. 16, 2013.
Reuters
— Russia signaled on Monday it was about to agree to a loan and gas deal with Ukraine to help Kyiv stave off economic chaos and keep it in its former Soviet master's orbit.
 
In Kyiv, the opposition went ahead with preparations for another big rally for Tuesday against what they see as moves by President Viktor Yanukovich to sell out national interests to Russia after backing away from a landmark deal with the European Union that would have shifted their country westwards.
 
An aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested a credit would be agreed at talks with Yanukovich in Moscow on Tuesday, and a Ukrainian minister said a deal was likely 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.
 
  • Portraits of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov are seen at a barricade during a rally in central Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 20, 2013.
  • A woman passes by Interior Ministry personnel as they block pro-EU demonstrators near the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 20, 2013.
  • Ukrainian pro-EU demonstrators warm themselves by a fire during a rally in Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 20, 2013.
  • A pile of garbage bags left by pro-European integration protesters lies in front of riot police officers in Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 20, 2013.
  • A Pro-European Union activist guards an entrance to the tent camp in Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 19, 2013.
  • A man reads a newspaper with a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the front page during a pro-European Union rally in Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Dec. 19, 2013.
  • Pro-European Union activists warm themselves sitting in their shelter inside a barricade during a rally in Independence Square, Kyiv, Dec. 18, 2013.
  • Pro-European Union activists pass through a police line as they march against the government in Kyiv, Dec. 17, 2013.
  • A pro-European Union activist stands while warming himself near a bonfire at a heavily fortified tent camp in Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 17, 2013.
  • A man stacks wooden bars showing names of Ukrainian cities and settlements that are hometowns of demonstrators, during a rally in Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 16, 2013.
  • Pro-European integration protesters eat free meals near a barricade during a rally in Independence Square in Kyiv, Dec. 16, 2013.
  • Pro-European Union activists rally in Independence Square, Kyiv, Dec. 15, 2013. 

“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].”
 
Russia's Finance Ministry confirmed talks on a loan were under way, and Ukrainian Energy Minister Eduard Stavitsky said there was a great probability a deal could be reached on reducing the price of Russian energy supplies to Ukraine.
 
Agreement on Tuesday would be seen in Moscow as a move keeping Ukraine in its political and economic orbit, more than two decades after the Soviet Union collapsed, and preventing a historic Westward shift by Kyiv.
 
The EU's enlargement chief said on Twitter on Sunday the 28-nation bloc was halting work on a trade and political pact with the country of 46 million because the deeds of Yanukovich and his government were “further and further apart.”
 
Stefan Fuele's words suggested the EU had lost patience with Kyiv's demands for financial aid and was irritated by the 'bidding war' with Russia over Ukraine. But divisions emerged in Brussels as other officials said the door remained open.
 
“I think making policy on the basis of a Twitter notice by Mr. Fuele is perhaps not the best way of approaching this issue,” Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said.
 
Ukraine is seeking help to cover an external funding gap of $17 billion next year - almost the level of the central bank's depleted currency reserves.
 
Belousov did not say how much Russia, whose own economy is stuttering badly, would offer Ukraine. But sources in Ukraine said the deal could be worth $15 billion, with Russian providing about $3-5 billion up front.
 
The most Brussels has so far offered Ukraine is 610 million euros [$837.56 million] but EU officials are in discussion with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial institutions on ways to help Ukraine.
 
Putin eyes victory
 
Apart from loans, Ukraine is seeking a lower price for Russian gas - now at around $400 per 1,000 cubic meters - to help it cope with its debt burden.
 
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov was quoted as saying on Sunday that he hoped a deal on a cheaper price for gas deliveries would soon be concluded. A reduction of at least 10-15 percent is likely, sources in Kyiv said.
 
Tuesday's talks are intended to conclude a “substantial package” of agreements to chart out a road map to removing trade barriers for Ukraine with Russia, both sides say.
 
Yanukovich may be attempting to keep the attention of both Moscow and Brussels to strike as good a deal as possible to handle its huge debt and outstanding gas payments to Moscow.
 
But it is a hazardous maneuver running the risk of alienating both parties and there is not certainty Ukraine can avoid default or a currency crisis.
 
Securing an agreement with Ukraine would be hailed in Russia as a geopolitical victory for Putin, who regards Ukraine as vital to his dream of creating a political and economic union stretching from the Pacific to the EU's eastern borders.
 
But Yanukovich is not expected to sign Ukraine up for a Russia-led customs union which Putin sees as the basis for his planned Eurasian Union stretching from the borders of Poland to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
 
Holding out on membership on the customs union could be Yanukovich's last bargaining chip as he tries to balance East against West and secure a good enough deal to be able to survive the protests in Kyiv and win a presidential election in 2015.
 
In Kyiv, the main protest camp had thinned out again on Monday after about 200,000 people protested on Sunday. A few thousand people were listening to prayers, speeches and songs, trying to warm themselves after snowfall during the night.
 
But these numbers could swell again on Tuesday. Leaders of Yanukovich's Party of Regions expressed dissatisfaction with the economic crisis and urged Azarov to take action against ministers who had 'underestimated' the effects on the economy of trying to strike a deal with the EU.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.