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Putin stoic as Ukraine PM resigns

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - 02:17

Jan. 27 - The conflict in Ukraine takes a new twist as the country's prime minister, Mykola Azarov, and his cabinet resign, apparently for the sake of a peaceful settlement. The news came shortly before Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said his government would stand by its commitments to Ukraine, while visiting EU chiefs in Brussels. Joel Flynn reports.

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Vladimir Putin was ostensibly in Brussels to discuss EU trade. But for the Russian president, the backdrop of Ukraine is casting a pernicious shadow over Russia's relationship with the European Union. Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet resigned on Tuesday, apparently for the sake of a peaceful settlement in the former Soviet country - divided between entrenched opposition protesters and a stubborn president. Now Ukraine faces an ever starker choice - one between the EU and Russia. That, said Putin, was one the country had yet to make. SOUNDBITE: Russian President, Vladimir Putin, saying (Russian): "At this point, since nobody knows what the next government in Ukraine will be, no one could say anything about its future economic strategy. However, we will abide by our commitments." Unrest began after Urkainian president Viktor Yanukovich chose a $15 billion Russian bailout over an EU trade pact. Anti-protest laws that were swiftly brought in to quell demonstrations against the deal have now been rescinded. Without solutions for Ukraine's economy however, permanent remedies still seem a long way off. IHS Global Insight's Lilit Gevorgyan. SOUNDBITE: IHS Global Insight, Lilit Gevorgyan, saying (English): "Ironically, I think the president had found a immediate short term remedy, and it was in the form of Russian short term aid. But the bottom line is that the Ukrainian economy needs a lot of painful reforms, and I really have to see what the opposition has to offer in this regard." But Azarov's offer to go is seen by some as an empty gesture - his role was offered by Yanukovich to the opposition at the weekend. The problem now, says Gevorgyan, is that much rests on the government's diplomacy. SOUNDBITE: IHS Global Insight, Lilit Gevorgyan, saying (English): "It's a very difficult situation and everything really is about striking a compromise, de-escalating the situation, and it would require statesmanship from the current president and other members of the government to find a solution to end the current standoff which is very dangerous." Several hundred people camp round the clock in Kiev's Independence Square. Few seem to have any idea how much longer they'll be there.

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Putin stoic as Ukraine PM resigns

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - 02:17