MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow will buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian government bonds but said there was no discussion about Ukraine joining a free trade pact of three ex-Soviet nations.
Putin's statement after Tuesday's talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is clearly aimed at protesters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, who oppose closer ties with Russia.
Putin also announced a sharp cut in the price that Ukraine must pay for Russian natural gas supplies. The Russian moves are intended to keep the struggling Ukrainian economy afloat.
Yanukovych is facing protests at home for spiking a pact with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.