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For Sale, It Seems


If this is true…


Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych met Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Friday to lay the grounds for a new “strategic partnership” to shore up Ukraine’s creaking economy in defiance of protesters back home enraged by his U-turn away from Europe. The leaders met in the Black Sea resort of Sochi [Home of the Winter Olympics!] in Russia, after Yanukovych flew in for an unannounced stop on his way back from China to map out a new agreement on trade and economic cooperation, a statement on Yanukovych’s official website said.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told journalists Yanukovych would visit Moscow at some point in the future and sign a large number of documents. “We are talking about a major agreement here,” Azarov said though he gave no precise details of the outline deal.Yanukovych faces turmoil in Kiev, where protesters are massed on Independence Square and others occupy City Hall, furious at Yanukovych for walking away last month from a landmark pact on trade and integration with the European Union. Police have threatened to crack down harshly to enforce a court order that they disperse.

Ukraine needs help to meet $17 billion in debt repayments and Russian gas bills next year.

Analysts say Yanukovych’s government appears to have struck a bargain with Putin, including for supplies of cheaper Russian gas and possibly credits, in exchange for backing away from the EU deal which would have heralded a historic shift westwards.


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