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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

EU mulls financial aid package for crisis-ridden Ukraine but rules out bidding war with Russia

BRUSSELS - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says the 28-nation bloc is looking into providing additional financial assistance for crisis-ridden Ukraine but won't start a bidding war with Russia to buy Kyiv's allegiance.

Barroso said Monday Ukraine is facing "very huge challenges" and the EU and its international partners are discussing what more can be done to help, provided Kyiv will commit to reforming its economy in return.

Barroso says the EU's offer of a wide-ranging free trade deal remains on the table and its readiness to provide further assistance wasn't about entering a "bidding competition of who pays more for a signature from Ukraine."

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's rejected the EU deal in November and accepted a $15 billion loan package from Russia instead, which triggered massive ongoing anti-government protests.

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