Putin says aid to Crimea will not exceed 100 bln roubles

MOSCOW, April 17 Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:25am EDT

MOSCOW, April 17 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said the costs of subsidising programmes related to annexed Crimea would not exceed 100 billion roubles ($2.8 billion) this year.

Russia in March approved an initial package of financial aid for Crimea to help the local economy, as it consolidates control over the region it annexed from neighbouring Ukraine.

Any additional strain on Russia's budget and social payments could hurt Putin's approval rating.

"We have put aside as a government reserve 240 billion roubles this year," Putin said in a televised address to the nation. "Costs subsidising Crimea programmes will not exceed 100 billion."

In the medium term, Putin said he was confident that Crimea would become self-sufficient.

Russia's finance minister Anton Siluanov said last month that Russia had budget reserves of around 240 billion which could be used for aid to Crimea. evoted to break away from Ukraine on March 16, is important to Putin's hopes of maintaining the support of the local population and keeping his popularity ratings high across Russia. ($1 = 36.0942 Russian roubles) (Reporting by Andrey Kuzmin and Jason Bush; Writing by Megan Davies; Editing by Larry King)

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