"The series of agreements signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych are a blow to European hopes of integrating Ukraine more closely with the EU", Financial Times writes.
Stefan Füle, EU enlargement commissioner, said on Wednesday that Brussels was still waiting to look at this week’s Russia-Ukraine agreements to ensure they did not contradict Kiev’s commitments to the EU under the planned integration agreement. However, he added that “if the Ukraine-Russia deal has brought some normalcy to the trade relationship between the two countries that’s fine”, the newspaper reports.
The west was prepared to give Kiev at least €20bn in loans if Ukraine agreed sign a landmark European Union integration agreement last month, according to an internal EU document seen by the Financial Times. The total would have broadly matched the bailout package Russia pledged to Ukraine on Tuesday – and what Ukraine had publicly demanded.
"The €20bn, which one official said was a conservative figure, would have come mainly via the International Monetary Fund under tough conditions. But the European Commission would have helped “fast-track” disbursement of the funds", FT writes referring to a separate EU memo.
However, "unlike a bailout from the International Monetary Fund, Russia’s macroeconomic support comes without awkward strings attached, while the IMF had offered loans only on condition that Ukraine raised subsidised domestic gas prices to market levels and allowed greater flexibility in the exchange rate of its currency hryvnia. Both measures would have hurt ordinary Ukrainians, while Mr Putin, presenting the agreements, pointedly noted that Russia’s financial support was not conditional on Kiev freezing social payments to Ukrainians," the paper writes.
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