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EU offers Ukraine €11 billion in aid, Russia says it has "no control" over militias

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Russia will “not allow bloodshed” in Ukraine.

Anti-Yanukovych protesters warm themselves next to a fire in Kiev's Independence Square, Ukraine
Anti-Yanukovych protesters warm themselves next to a fire in Kiev's Independence Square, Ukraine
Image: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT Jose Manuel Barroso today announced a massive aid package to Ukraine of “at least €11 billion over the next couple of years.”

“It is a package designed to assist a committed, inclusive and reforms-oriented Ukrainian government,” Barroso said.

“The package combined could bring an overall support of at least 11 billion euros ($15 billion) over the next couple of years, from the EU budget and EU based international financial institutions,” the head of the EU executive told a news conference.

He said he would discuss details of the assistance in Brussels tomorrow with interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who will be attending an emergency summit of the EU’s 28 leaders called to mull a joint response to military crisis in Crimea.

Barroso said the EU’s immediate priority was to help find a peaceful solution to the crisis that “must include a withdrawal from Russian armed forces to the areas of their permanent stationing.”

Earlier, Russia said it has no authority over pro-Moscow forces that have taken de-facto control of the Ukraine’s majority-Russian Crimean Peninsula.

A day after US President Barack Obama said Russia was “not fooling anybody” over its role in Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted the armed troops were not taking orders from the Kremlin.

“If they are the self-defence forces created by the inhabitants of Crimea, we have no authority over them,” Lavrov told a news conference in Madrid after a meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo.

“They do not receive our orders,” he said.

The Russian foreign minister, who left Madrid for a Paris meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry after the conference, said Moscow would not allow bloodshed to erupt in Ukraine.

“We will not allow bloodshed. We will not allow attempts against the lives and wellbeing of those who live in Ukraine and Russian citizens who live in Ukraine,” he said.

- © AFP, 2014

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