Ukraine leader tilts toward Russian economic union

Associated Press
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A young couple embrace each other as they look at the stage during a concert after a pro-European Union rally in the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Putin and Yanukovych both pledged Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 to boost economic and trade ties to expand the "strategic partnership" between the two neighbors. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych says the government may partially commit to a Russian economic union that has been denounced in mass protests against the government.

Yanukovych said on television Thursday that the Cabinet is analyzing which parts of the Moscow-led customs union Ukraine should join.

Yanukovych's statement was likely to anger thousands of protesters who have barricaded themselves in the capital over the past month. They want Yanukovych to reverse his pro-Moscow course and turn back toward integration with the European Union.

Yanukovych's comments came two days after Russian president Vladimir Putin announced a major bailout package for Ukraine. The deal includes a purchase of $15 billion in Ukrainian bonds and a sharp discount for Russian natural gas.