Russia gave Ukraine a bailout package worth at least $20 billion on Tuesday, tightening its control over the former Soviet republic.
The deal came just weeks after Kiev rejected a trade deal with the European Union that Moscow had strongly opposed, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The bailout, announced after talks in the Kremlin between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yanukovych, on Tuesday, gives Ukraine loans and cheaper natural-gas supplies.
The bailout appears to be substantially bigger and less restrictive than the aid package the West was offering in a bid to get Ukraine to sign the EU's trade-and-political accord. Russian officials said the first $3 billion in credits could be released within days.
"Ukraine's trade with Russia makes it impossible for us to act in any other way," Yanukovych said, referring to the deep economic links between the two countries, according to The Wall Street Journal. "There is no alternative to this."
Western politicians have traveled to the Ukrainian capital Kiev in recent weeks to join thousands of protesters who had taken to its central square after Yanukovych's abrupt about-face on an offer from the EU on Nov. 21.
A White House spokesman denounced the deal, saying it "will not address the concerns of those who have gathered in public protest across Ukraine," The Wall Street Journal reports.
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