Kiev - Russia will release the next instalment of its $15bn loan to Ukraine at the end of the month, a newspaper close to President Viktor Yanukovych said on Monday, following talks between Ukraine's leader and his Russian counterpart.
The bailout was promised to Ukraine in December after Yanukovych rejected an EU trade and political pact in favour of closer ties with Russia, a move that triggered widespread protests and led to the resignation of the prime minister.
Moscow has effectively frozen the much-needed loan after paying just one $3bn instalment, as it waits for the appointment of a new government in the struggling country.
According to the report in the Segodnya daily, which quotes a source close to Yanukovych, the president met with Vladimir Putin twice last week in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where the Winter Olympic Games are taking place.
The Ukrainian leader - who is caught between opposition demands for him to resign and appoint a new pro-West government, and Russian pressure - had a two-hour conversation with Putin when he arrived in Sochi on Thursday evening, the report said.
These talks had until now been kept secret, and the Kremlin had only confirmed a brief meeting on Friday on the sidelines of the Games' opening ceremony.
According to the report, the December 17 agreement - which includes Moscow's purchase of Ukrainian debt and reduction by a third of the future price of Russian natural gas deliveries - is still in place.
"For the Kremlin, who will be the next prime minister is not important. But who becomes responsible for respecting the December agreements must be made clear," the report said.
"The [next] instalment of $2bn will come at the end of February."
According to the source, the meeting between Yanukovych and Putin "did not touch on the issue of the geopolitical choice" between the West and Russia.