Putin says Russia had to help "brotherly" Ukraine

MOSCOW Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:30am EST

MOSCOW Dec 19 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Russia had to act to help its "brotherly" neighbour Ukraine out of economic crisis and that Moscow did not oppose Kiev signing a trade pact with Europe as long as it did not harm Russia's economy.

"Now we see that Ukraine is in difficult straits ... if we really say that they are a brotherly nation and people then we must act like close relatives and help this nation," Putin said in an annual news conference.

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