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Russia May Lend Ukraine $2 Billion Before Election


Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (left) with his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko will meet in October.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (left) with his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko will meet in October.

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia could lend Ukraine $2 billion to support the former Soviet republic's economy ahead of next year's election, the "Vedomosti" business daily has reported, citing an unidentified Russian government official.

The newspaper said on September 8 that natural gas supplies and the possibility of lending money to Ukraine would be discussed at an October meeting between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko.

The paper said Ukraine had not yet officially asked for a loan but said that Russian officials would be ready to look at the possibility of extending credit to Kyiv.

"We do not need the collapse of Ukraine," the newspaper quoted the unidentified Russian government official as saying. "That would be oil on the fire of the election campaign."

When asked about the report, Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said by telephone he was unaware of any talks about a possible loan.

Russia's Gazprom, the world's biggest natural gas company, supplies a quarter of the European Union's gas and most of this goes through pipelines across Ukraine.

Putin agreed earlier this month to let Kyiv import much less gas than previously arranged, saving Ukraine's economy from potentially huge fines.

Diplomats say they are closely watching the relationship between former Kremlin chief Putin and Tymoshenko, the most popular Ukrainian politician now holding office, ahead of Ukraine's January 17 presidential election.

Moscow is eager to extend Russian business interests in Ukraine.
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