Putin spokesman: customs union not discussed
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The spokesman for Russia's president says Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Vladimir Putin didn't discuss Ukraine joining a Russian-led customs union, one of the issues driving large protests now in their third week in Kiev.
The protests started after Yanukovych backed away from signing a long-expected agreement with the European Union to deepen economic ties. Russia has pressured Ukraine to join a trade bloc also including Kazakhstan and Belarus. Protesters denounce attempts to bring Ukraine back into Moscow's orbit and contend Yanukovych aims to sell out Ukraine to Russia.
Putin and Yanukovych met Friday in Sochi. Details were few, but Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying Saturday that "the question of Ukraine's possibly joining the customs union was not discussed in Sochi."