WASHINGTON, December 17 (RIA Novosti) – The United States said Tuesday that Russia’s multibillion-dollar lifeline to Kiev does not address the concerns of legions of Ukrainians who have taken to the streets to protest their government’s decision to halt expected trade deals with the European Union.
“Any agreements concluded between Kiev and Moscow will not address the concerns of those who have gathered in public protest across Ukraine,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters, The Associated Press reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yanukovych, announced a deal Tuesday under which Moscow will sharply lower natural gas prices for Kiev and dip into its national wealth fund to buy $15 billion in Ukrainian eurobonds.
Ukraine has been hit with massive ongoing street protests over a decision by Yanokovych’s government last month to spurn an association agreement and trade deals with the EU in favor of closer cooperation with neighboring Russia.
US and European officials have expressed vocal support for the protesters, a position Carney reiterated after the announcement of Tuesday’s deal.
“We urge the Ukrainian government to listen to its people and to find a way to restore a path to the peaceful, just, democratic and economically prosperous European future to which Ukrainian citizens aspire,” the AP quoted Carney as saying.
Russia has repeatedly criticized what it describes as outside interference in the tense standoff between Ukrainian authorities and protesters.
Western officials, meanwhile, have accused Moscow of bullying Ukraine on trade issues in order to dissuade Kiev from greater integration with the EU.
In a show of support for the Ukrainian opposition, US Senator John McCain – a relentless critic of Putin – arrived in Kiev over the weekend and told a crowd of anti-government demonstrators in central Kiev that “the destiny you seek lies in Europe.”