MOSCOW Jan 29 Russian President Vladimir Putin
instructed his government on Wednesday to honour its agreements
to lend Ukraine $15 billion to Ukraine and cut the price of gas
it sells to its crisis-hit neighbour.
Senior Russian officials, however, suggested Moscow would
not lend a second tranche of money or discuss any further breaks
on gas payments until a new government is formed following Prime
Minister Mykola Azarov's resignation.
Putin agreed the aid package with Ukraine in December,
throwing the ex-Soviet state a lifeline in what was widely seen
as a reward for scrapping plans to sign key political and trade
deals with the EU and pledging to improve ties with Russia.
"I would ask the government to fulfill all our financial
agreements in full," Putin said, according to Interfax,
repeating a pledge he made on Tuesday to provide the aid even if
the opposition forms the next government.
Ukraine has received $3 billion and wants another $2 billion
soon, but Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said
it would "make sense to wait until a new government is formed"
before holding further talks about implementation of the aid
package. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev seconded that.
"With the understanding of the need to fulfill all the
agreements, we must do this deliberately. And we can do it
deliberately only when we understand what kind of government
there will be, who will be working in it and what rules it will
follow," Interfax quoted Medvedev as saying.