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Kremlin aide says Russia is ready to act on Ukraine loan

A KREMLIN aide has made clear it is ready to extend credit to Ukraine to help Kiev cope with its economic problems and keep the country in Moscow's orbit.

Economic adviser Andrei Belousov said it was possible credit could be agreed at talks today between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who has turned to Moscow for help after spurning a free trade deal with the EU last month.

Mr Belousov said: "The situation in Ukraine is now such that without loans, from one side or another, they will simply fail to maintain economic stability."

Mr Yanukovich has faced street protests since Kiev's U-turn away from Europe but Ukrainian officials have made clear they do not think the EU is prepared to come up with enough money to help Ukraine through its economic difficulties.

The EU on Sunday suspended work on the trade and political pact it has been negotiating with Ukraine, and has accused Russia of putting heavy pressure on the former Soviet republic not to move closer to the EU.

But Mr Yanukovich has not said whether he will bow to Russia's calls to take his country into a Moscow-led customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Apart from loans, Ukraine is seeking a lower price for Russian gas to help it cope with its debt burden.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has said he hopes a deal on a cheaper price for gas deliveries would be done at today's summit between Kiev and Moscow.

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Finance

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