UPDATE 1-Kremlin silent on timing of second tranche of Ukraine bailout

Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:29am EST

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MOSCOW Feb 19 (Reuters) - The Kremlin deflected questions on Wednesday about when Russia would release the second instalment of a $15-billion bailout package for Ukraine, saying ending the violent upheaval was the main priority.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Monday that Moscow would buy $2 billion of Ukrainian eurobonds this week and a Ukrainian government source had said Kiev expected the money to arrive on Wednesday.

But, asked about the second instalment, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters he could not comment and went on instead to underline that the most important thing was ending the violence.

"One thing is clear: In a situation in which extremists elements are (causing) what is happening in Ukraine, resolving the situation is the priority," Peskov said.

The Finance Ministry did not immediately respond to questions on Wednesday about when the money would be released.

Putin promised to lend cash-strapped Ukraine $15 billion and reduce gas prices in a bailout package seen as a reward for Kiev's November decision to scrap plans for political and trade deals with the European Union and improve ties with Russia.

Siluanov's statement that the second instalment would come this week was viewed as a sign Moscow was satisfied that President Viktor Yanukovich had a plan to curb the protest movement that erupted after his about-turn away from Europe.

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