Russia told Ukraine on Tuesday it had transferred the first $3 billion tranche of a $15 billion bailout, part of plans to keep Kiev firmly within Moscow's orbit and out of the European Union's embrace.
President Vladimir Putin offered Ukraine the lifeline last week, along with a big cut in the price Kiev pays for vital Russian gas supplies, as he tries to persuade Russia's Slavic neighbor to join a customs union of ex-Soviet republics.
"Yesterday ... the first tranche of Ukrainian sovereign debt was acquired for $3 billion," Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told his Ukrainian counterpart Mykola Azarov at a meeting in Moscow, according to Interfax news agency.
"The money went to the central bank of Ukraine yesterday."
The Kremlin said it had invited Azarov to join Putin and other leaders for a meeting of former Soviet republics taking part in trade alliances Russia is building.
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