Skip to main content

Ukraine, Russia sign economic deal despite protests

By Laura Smith-Spark. Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Diana Magnay, CNN
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 1643 GMT (0043 HKT)
Newlyweds Mikhail and Margarita Nakonechniy kiss in front of barricades on Independence Square in a gesture of support for pro-Europe activists in Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday, December 21. Protesters have poured into the streets of the Ukrainian capital, angered by their government's move away from the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia. Newlyweds Mikhail and Margarita Nakonechniy kiss in front of barricades on Independence Square in a gesture of support for pro-Europe activists in Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday, December 21. Protesters have poured into the streets of the Ukrainian capital, angered by their government's move away from the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.
HIDE CAPTION
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
Ukraine protests
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Putin says Russia to buy Ukrainian debt, cut price its neighbor pays for its gas
  • Viktor Yanukovych says Ukraine and Russia will deepen their strategic cooperation
  • Yanukovych and Putin meet as protesters rally in Ukraine against closer ties with Russia
  • Yanukovych angered many in Ukraine by backpedaling on signing an EU trade deal

Kiev, Ukraine (CNN) -- Russia will buy Ukrainian debt and slash the price Kiev pays for its gas, President Vladimir Putin says, throwing an economic lifeline to its neighbor, rattled by protests calling for closer economic ties with Europe instead.

Amid a backdrop of continuous demonstrations in Kiev, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych met Putin in Moscow on Tuesday, where the deal was announced.

There, he said they agreed on a joint economic plan of action, covering areas such as industry, agriculture, defense, construction and transport.

"We need to continue our joint work of our governments, our working groups," Yanukovych said in a televised news conference.

Under the deal, Putin said Moscow would buy $15 billion in Ukrainian debt by investing in its national welfare fund.

Daughter of former Ukraine PM speaks
Ukraine under pressure
Trade negotiations continue in Ukraine
Bildt: "mixed messages" from Ukraine

The cost of Russian gas supplied to Ukraine was cut from more than $400 per 1,000 cubic meters to $268.50.

The deal may inflame the tens of thousands of protesters, who have poured into the streets of the Ukrainian capital for weeks, angry at Yanukovych for spurning a trade deal with the European Union last month and turning to Moscow for help.

"He (Yanukovych) did not communicate with us, so how can he sign documents on our behalf?" one protester occupying the central Independence Square, or Maidan, told CNN before the deal was announced.

Despite the sub-zero temperatures, the demonstrators opposed to closer ties with Russia have stood their ground, setting up tents and barricades, paralyzing the city center.

They were out in the tens of thousands Sunday -- the fourth weekend in a row -- urging their leaders to mend ties with Europe.

Boosting trade

The agreements are intended to reverse a decline in trade between the two nations over the past two years, the leaders said, adding that the planned cooperation would be "mutually beneficial" to both economies.

Yanukovych said the focus was on "economic areas, which is basis of our working together in a bilateral way."

"We are ready to look at the possibility of rapprochement in economic and political spheres," Putin said.

Ahead of Tuesday's talks, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov rejected claims that Ukraine was leaning toward joining Russia and two other former Soviet republics, Belarus and Kazakhstan, in a Customs Union.

"These are speculations. None of the papers we have prepared are in any way related to the Customs Union," he said.

Ukraine, Russia to sign trade road map, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov says

Economic issues

EU foreign ministers held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday in Brussels, Belgium.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Moscow should not fear "a detrimental effect on Russia" as a result of Ukraine's signature of the EU deal.

"I don't believe that the crisis in Ukraine should have a negative impact on our relations with Russia. It does mean, though, that we have to look very seriously about the way in which countries make their decision and are entitled to make their decision," she said.

Ahead of the talks, Ashton told reporters she believed the bloc could work with Yanukovych on Kiev's concerns, voiced since the Eastern European country backpedaled on signing the Association Agreement.

"We are very concerned when we look at some of the things that are being said, and my purpose in talking to President Yanukovych was to discover what these short-term economic issues are that have prevented him from signing," Ashton said.

"I feel that we can work with him to resolve those. Some of them can be done through the support of the European Union, others through financial institutions, some of them through the private sector. All of them are possible."

Stefan Fule, European commissioner for enlargement and European neighborhood policy, said a day earlier on Twitter that efforts were being halted amid growing doubts that any deal could be done with Kiev.

Ukraine, a key transit region for Russian gas going to Western Europe, has desperately needed a cash injection.

Azarov last week told a government meeting that Ukraine was still open to signing the European integration deal, if the European Union would agree to provide financial assistance to Ukraine of around 20 billion euros ($27.5 billion).

Future ties

Some in Europe have accused Moscow of using strong-arm tactics to try to influence Ukraine's course, but Russia denies that charge.

The tumult in Ukraine goes to the heart of its future ties with Russia and the rest of Europe.

Ukraine is split between pro-European regions in the west and a more Russia-oriented east.

The protests have unfolded since November 21, when Yanukovych changed his stance on the EU trade pact, which had been years in the making.

The demonstrators say an EU agreement would open borders to trade and set the stage for modernization and inclusion.

CNN's Diana Magnay reported from Kiev, while Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Laura Smith-Spark wrote and reported in London. CNN's Polina Marinova contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1530 GMT (2330 HKT)
Russia is accused of being directly involved in Ukraine fighting. Diplomacy has failed, argues one commentator.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
It's been building for months. And now, according to some, Russia has launched a "full-scale invasion" of Ukraine.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The EU announces it will pay for temporary storage of butter, skimmed milk powder and certain cheeses
August 23, 2014 -- Updated 1343 GMT (2143 HKT)
A shopkeeper's mutilated body, relatives' anguish, homes destroyed ... this is Donetsk.
August 23, 2014 -- Updated 1338 GMT (2138 HKT)
Photojournalist Jonathan Alpeyrie explains how he captured rare images of a rebel funeral, and was arrested for his efforts.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1112 GMT (1912 HKT)
A 20-minute drive from Kiev takes you to a neighborhood that feels more like Beverly Hills than central Ukraine.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1658 GMT (0058 HKT)
Photos illustrate the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as fighting continues to flare in the region.
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1234 GMT (2034 HKT)
Western leaders stepped up sanctions, but the Russian President shows no sign of backing down.
August 4, 2014 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
Despite mortar fire echoing in the distance, the international team combed through the wreckage of MH17.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1108 GMT (1908 HKT)
The road isn't easy -- past shelling and eerie separatist checkpoints. But where it leads is harder still.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1631 GMT (0031 HKT)
Future imports, exports between the EU and Russia are now banned -- but existing contracts continue.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
More Russian aggression in Ukraine. More U.S. and European sanctions imposed on Moscow.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0001 GMT (0801 HKT)
Deadly violence, ongoing tensions and the deliberate downing of a passenger airplane. Why should Americans worry?
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
The shooting down of MH17 may finally alert Washington and Europe to the danger of the conflict in Ukraine.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2304 GMT (0704 HKT)
The United States and its allies are angrier at Russia now over Ukraine, but will they do anything more about it?
The U.S. releases satellite images it says shows the Russian military has fired across its border with Ukraine.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
August 1, 2014 -- Updated 2037 GMT (0437 HKT)
Information about Ukraine, the second-largest European country in area after Russia.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1725 GMT (0125 HKT)
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin on securing the MH17 crash site and negotiating with the separatists.
Learn more about the victims, ongoing investigation and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
The downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 put the pro-Russia rebels operating in Ukraine's eastern region center stage.
ADVERTISEMENT