President Vladimir Putin rapped the West for meddling in the Ukrainian crisis and said Russia would not withdraw its multi-billion aid package to Ukraine if opposition comes to power in the former Soviet state.
Addressing a joint press conference with E.U. leaders following a frosty Russia-E.U. summit in Brussels, Mr. Putin came out against international mediation in the Ukrainian crisis and criticised the West for interference.
“I can imagine how our European partners would react if our Foreign Minister addressed an anti-E.U. meeting in Greece or Cyprus at the peak of the crisis there,” Mr. Putin said in reference to the trips of European and U.S. officials to Ukraine to support anti-government protesters.
“We do not think this is a good thing to do, and it is absolutely unacceptable and impossible for us, given the nature of relations between Russia and Ukraine,” he stated.
The European leaders cut the Russia-E.U. summit to one day, instead of the normal two, and cancelled a routine dinner for Mr. Putin in a display of their displeasure with the Russian leader’s strong support for the embattled Ukrainian President.
Mr. Putin pledged to continue supporting the Ukrainian economy irrespective of government changes in Ukraine.
“In response to your question whether we would review our loan and energy agreements if opposition comes to power, I say: No, we won’t,” Mr. Putin said.
Russia agreed to grant Ukraine a $15-billion loan and extend steep price cuts for its natural gas after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych ditched a free trade and association pact with the European Union.