KIEV - Ukraine has avoided bankruptcy and social collapse thanks to a "historic" deal with Russia for Moscow to buy $15 billion of Ukrainian bonds and slash gas prices, its prime minister said Wednesday.
"What would have awaited Ukraine (without the deal)? The answer is clear - bankruptcy and social collapse," Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told parliament.
"This would have been the New Year's present for the people of Ukraine," he added ironically.
He hailed Tuesday's "historic" agreement between President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych as the only option for the country at a time of economic crisis.
Azarov said there was no way Ukraine could have signed an Association Agreement with the European Union as Kiev would have had to have accepted unfeasibly stringent IMF conditions for economic reform.
He also lambasted the terms of the 2009 gas deal between Russia and Ukraine signed by the government of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko for which she has since been jailed.
"The president put an end to this story of treason of the national interests of the country by the same forces who are sowing instability today," he said.
"The agreements that were signed offer good perspectives for the Ukrainian economy. Today, nothing threatens Ukraine's economic and financial stability," he added.
With protesters still occupying Independence Square in Kiev over the government's rejection of the EU deal, the prime minister issued a blunt warning to the opposition.
The government would now "not allow anyone to destabilise" the situation in the country, he said.