The EU and Russia agreed Tuesday to discuss their sharp differences over Ukraine and eastern Europe as President Vladimir Putin again warned against foreign meddling in former Soviet states.
Putin went into a summit with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso billed as a "clear the air session" only for both sides to come out stressing the positives.
Apparently aiming to calm the waters in Ukraine, Putin also promised not to review crucial aid worth $15 billion (11 billion euros) even if the opposition, hostile to closer ties with Russia, takes power there.
"In direct answer to your question as to whether we will review our agreements on loans and energy if the opposition comes to power -- no we will not," Putin told a press conference after the talks.
"This is not important to us," Putin said, noting that Moscow had had "a very constructive dialogue" with Ukraine when it was led by now-jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.
At the same time, "we want to be sure that this money comes back," the president added.
(so did Putin just hang Yanukovich out in the wind???)
Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the European Union on Tuesday for sending high-level delegations to Ukraine during its anti-government protests, saying that could be interpreted as political interference.
Speaking at the conclusion of an EU-Russia summit in Brussels, he said: "I can imagine the reaction of our European partners if, in the midst of a crisis in Greece or any other country, our foreign minister would come to an anti-European rally and would urge people to do something."
"The more intermediaries there are, the more problems there are," said Putin. "Considering the specifics of relations between Russia and Ukraine, it is simply unacceptable."
The EU has sent a procession of senior officials, including Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, to meet with government and opposition leaders in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic. Ashton had been scheduled to visit Kiev again later this week, but she decided to fly to Ukraine on Tuesday.
Putin said the EU has been too soft on Ukraine's opposition, claiming some of its members have used racist and xenophobic arguments to win popular support.