Putin gambles on Ukraine bailout

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych chat during a news conference after their talks in Moscow on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013. Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow has agreed to sharply cut the price of its natural gas supplies to Ukraine and will buy $  15 billion worth of Ukrainian government bonds, but says there was no discussion about Ukraine joining a free trade pact of three ex-Soviet nations. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)By Lidia Kelly MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin has taken a gamble with Russia's own fragile economy by bailing out Ukraine for the sake of keeping it in Moscow's orbit and out of the European Union's embrace. His finance minister, Anton Siluanov, defended Tuesday's deal in the Kremlin with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, which offered Kiev $ 15 billion in credits and slashed a third off the price it pays for vital Russian gas supplies. "I believe that Russia only won," Siluanov told Reuters on Wednesday, dismissing as baseless concerns the accord might damage Moscow's own credibility with investors.

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