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Putin, Ukraine leader to discuss ties in Sochi on Friday

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych will discuss the political crisis in Kiev when they meet in Sochi at the Winter Olympic Games' opening ceremony on Friday.

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych will discuss the political crisis in Kiev when the two meet on the sidelines of the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi on Friday, the Kremlin said.

"He will indeed be there and they will indeed meet," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told AFP. "They will discuss bilateral ties."

Earlier this week Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara said Yanukovych planned to travel to Sochi for the start of the Games.

Yanukovych, who was set to meet EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday, has been battling two months of protests against his rule and has accepted the resignation of his prime minister and the entire cabinet in a key concession to the opposition.

In December, Russia promised Ukraine a $15 billion (11 billion euro) bailout package to prop up the ex-Soviet nation's recession-hit economy and has already released the first $3 billion tranche.

But last week Putin put the financing on hold pending the formation of a new government in Kiev.

Ashton has raised the possibility of financial aid from Brussels and Washington but one EU diplomat has admitted it would be hard to match Russia's package.

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