Putin orders government to work with foreign partners on Ukraine
MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his government to continue talks with Ukraine on economic and trade relations and to consult foreign partners including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Group of Eight nations (G8) on financial aid, a statement on the Kremlin's website said.
It said Mr Putin also ordered the government to consider a request from Ukraine's largely ethnic Russian southern region of Crimea, a bastion of opposition to the new pro-Western leadership in Kiev, for humanitarian aid.
They were the first orders Mr Putin has made in relation to Ukraine since Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovich's ouster over the weekend after a bloody three-month standoff with opposition protesters.
The orders were in stark contrast with aggressive Russian statements which have called on Ukraine's new leaders to disarm "extremists" and vowed that Moscow will strongly defend its compatriots in Ukraine.