Putin, Yanukovich set for talks

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IOL pic feb5 russia putin file Associated Press Russian President Vladimir Putin. File picture: Alexei Nikolsky

Moscow - Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovich will discuss the political crisis in Kiev when the two meet on the sidelines of the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi on Friday, the Kremlin said.

“He will indeed be there and they will indeed meet,” Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told AFP. “They will discuss bilateral ties.”

Earlier this week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara said Yanukovich planned to travel to Sochi for the start of the Games.

Yanukovich, who was set to meet EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday, has been battling two months of protests against his rule and has accepted the resignation of his prime minister and the entire cabinet in a key concession to the opposition.

In December, Russia promised Ukraine a $15 billion bailout package to prop up the ex-Soviet nation's recession-hit economy and has already released the first $3 billion tranche.

But last week Putin put the financing on hold pending the formation of a new government in Kiev.

Ashton has raised the possibility of financial aid from Brussels and Washington but one EU diplomat has admitted it would be hard to match Russia's package.


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