MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed his government on Wednesday to honor its agreements to lend Ukraine $15 billion to Ukraine and cut the price of gas it sells to its crisis-hit neighbor.
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.
Reporting by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Douglas Busvine