A Ukrainian man stands in protest in front of gunmen in unmarked uniforms as they stand guard in Balaklava, on the outskirts of Sevastopol, Ukraine, Saturday, March 1, 2014. An emblem on one of the vehicles and their number plates identify them as belonging to the Russian military. Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of sending new troops into Crimea, a strategic Russia-speaking region that hosts a major Russian navy base. The Kremlin hasn’t responded to the accusations, but Russian lawmakers urged Putin to act to protect Russians in Crimea. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)
KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich on Thursday said he had had to accept a $15 billion aid package from Russia because of high gas prices and debt repayments to the IMF, but he said the package did not contradict a policy of integration with Europe.
"There are no contradictions in the course of Ukraine for any (European) integration," he said, adding that Ukraine should maintain good economic relations with all its strategic partners including the EU and Russia.
(Reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Gabriela Baczynska)