KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine will need energy from the European Union to protect it from repercussions of its standoff with Russia, on which it depends for over half its oil and gas supplies, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Saturday.
Yatseniuk's comments came a day after he signed a landmark association agreement with the EU, committing Ukraine to closer political and economic cooperation with the bloc.
Speaking at a briefing in Kiev after talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the prime minister said "we need reverse supplies of gas from the EU to ensure the energy security of Ukraine."
Their talks included the possibility that Germany help Ukraine to modernize and strengthen its armed forces.
Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Russian-majority region of Crimea has brought about the worst confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.
Steinmeier said the international community must not let the Ukraine-Russia crisis create a new division of Europe. He hoped the first OSCE monitors would arrive in Ukraine to support de-escalation efforts in the next couple of days.
He welcomed moves by Kiev's transitional government to ensure it took interests of all people in eastern Ukraine into account in their policies, referring to a speech by Yatseniuk this week stressing his wish to lead an inclusive government.
"You gave the impression that minority rights would be guaranteed and that is a good signal, which the country needs in the current circumstances," he said to Yatseniuk in their joint news conference.
Steinmeier was due to travel to the east of the country later on Saturday and meet local authorities in Donetsk.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Tom Heneghan)