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MOSCOW, December 17. /ITAR-TASS World Service/. Russian newspapers follow the developments in Ukraine where mass actions of the European integration supporters continue since November 21.
The Kommersant daily reports that on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a meeting with the colleagues from the European Union in Brussels warned that confronting Kiev “with an artificial choice is wrongful.” A high-ranking source in the European Commission assured the newspaper that Brussels was not only not refusing from integration with Ukraine, but also was ready to provide specific assistance to it or help it find money elsewhere — the EU has until now denied this.
According to a Kommersant source in the European Commission, the EU is ready to take “specific steps,” in particular, assist Ukraine in obtaining a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Brussels had earlier excluded the possibility of financial assistance to Kiev, stressing that the very fact of rapprochement with the EU would be of benefit to Ukraine.
Russia on Monday also made it clear publicly that it was ready to provide financial assistance to Ukraine. Russia’s presidential aide Andrei Belousov did not rule out that Kiev during a meeting of President Vladimir Putin with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich that is scheduled for December 17 would request a loan from Moscow and it would be promptly granted. The loan sum may be some $15 billion, as well as a considerable natural gas price discount (up to half from the current price), additional investment in joint projects in the military-industrial, aviation, space and energy spheres and access to Russia’s defense order.
According to non-public estimates of Western experts, “without outside help Ukraine will face a default in some six weeks,” the Kommersant daily stresses.
A source of the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) believes that Russia could exchange gas price for the terms of deployment of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea: “For example, they may now allow Russia to replace its equipment, ships and armaments without regard to the “same type - same class” principle. Head of the Fund for Energy Strategies Dmitry Marunich specified that Ukraine might be offered a temporary gas price reduction of about $50 per 1,000 cubic meters.
The Novye Izvestia newspaper writes that Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov has reserved for Russia’s natural gas monopoly Gazprom a “carrot” in the form of the proposal on the resumption of negotiations on the division of Ukraine’s gas transportation system (GTS). The years-long negotiations on this issue have stalled, because the requirements of Russia’s monopoly of total control over the GTS were rejected by Kiev. Russia in response started to promptly build gas pipelines bypassing the obstinate neighbor - the Nord Stream and South Stream pipelines. “It is extremely important that we plan to resume negotiations on the creation of a trilateral consortium with the participation of the European side and ensuring absolutely transparent conditions of gas pumping and management of our gas transportation system,” Azarov said. However, taking into account the fact that Gazprom has already launched the Nord Stream pipeline and now is actively building South Stream, getting control over Ukraine’s GTS (which involves investments worth billions of rubles) is already less relevant for the monopoly.
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