UPDATE 1-Russian president says will honour loan to Ukraine

Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:42am EST

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BRUSSELS Jan 28 (Reuters) - Russia will honour its pledge to lend Ukraine $15 billion and reduce the price of gas it supplies to its neighbour even if the opposition forms the next government, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

However, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said soon afterwards that Russia and Ukraine had no agreement yet on the second tranche of the $15 billion loan and talks between finance ministries were continuing.

Ukraine's prime minister, Mykola Azarov, resigned earlier on Tuesday following weeks of protests.

"Regarding your question whether we will review our agreements on loans and the energy sector if the opposition will take power ... No, we will not," Putin told a news conference after talks with European Union leaders in Brussels.

The loan was to "support the people of Ukraine, not the government. It's the people, the common people that suffer," Putin said.

Russia would, however, be monitoring Ukraine's economic health very closely as the loan needed to be repaid.

"Despite our large gold and currency reserves, government reserves, $15 billion is the amount that IMF, a major global organisation, was planning to give to Ukraine. Russia is alone giving it and we want to be sure we get this money back," he said.

"Therefore it is important regardless of which political force leads the government, what economic policy they are intending to apply," he said.

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