MOSCOW, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Russia decided to provide Ukraine with loans and cut price for gas supplies because Moscow sees Kiev as a brotherly nation in difficult situation, President Vladimir Putin said at his annual press conference on Thursday.
"We should behave as close relatives and support Ukrainian people," Putin said.
No one attempted to "suffocate" Ukrainians but if they wanted to be independent, they had to pay for that, he said.
The Russian president noted that his country was not going to support Ukrainian economy at its own expense.
If Ukraine signed up for the European Union's (EU) technical standards, it would lose Russian market completely. For Ukraine, it would take much time and hundreds of billions of dollars to switch for EU standards, he said.
Putin reiterated that Moscow did not oppose Kiev's association with the EU but Russia had to protect its market in case Ukraine opened its borders for European goods.
"In these circumstances we've made a decision in the interests of Ukrainian people as well as for pragmatic reasons. We expect we'll find long-term decisions to cooperate at a deeper level," Putin said.
It was Putin's ninth such press conference as president and the second since his returned to the Kremlin last May. More than 1,300 reporters gathered for the event. Last year, the marathon conference lasted for 4.5 hours.
[Video] Russia to cut gas price for Ukraine, buy Ukrainian gov't bonds
BEIJING, Dec. 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow has agreed to sharply cut the price for its natural gas supplies to Ukraine, and will buy 15 billion US dollars worth of Ukrainian government bonds. Putin made the announcement Tuesday after holding talks at the Kremlin with his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yanukovych.
Putin said the Russian state-controlled gas monopoly, Gazprom, will cut the price of gas supplies to Ukraine by about one-third to about 268 US dollars per 1-thousand cubic meters. Russia would also convert 15 billion US dollars worth of its National Welfare Fund into Ukrainian securities, to help it stave off a financial crisis. Full story
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