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Putin Says Russia’s Financial Aid to Cyprus Not Ruled Out

President Vladimir Putin said Russia would consider extending financial assistance to Cyprus as part of an international rescue package and after the European Union takes a unified stance on aiding the island.

Once the bloc makes the necessary “arrangements, we don’t rule out the possibility of joining any solution aimed at stabilizing the situation in Cyprus,” Putin told reporters in Brussels today after a Russia-EU summit. “It’s not actually convenient for us to intervene in the process.”

Cyprus has been bogged down in talks with the International Monetary Fund and European authorities since June, when it became the fifth euro-area nation to request assistance. Russia is weighing a request for 5 billion euros ($6.6 billion) from Cyprus after having agreed a year ago to lend 2.5 billion euros to the bloc’s third-smallest economy.

Standard & Poor’s yesterday cut Cyprus’s long-term debt rating for the third time in five months, lowering it to CCC+ from B with a negative outlook and citing a rising risk of default as the government’s short-term financing is “increasingly vulnerable.” Cyprus’s public debt will be 97 percent of gross domestic product next year and 103 percent in 2014, the European Commission forecasts.

Speaking today at a joint briefing with European Commission head Jose Barroso and EU President Herman Van Rompuy, Putin said bailing out Cyprus “isn’t a question of money” for Russia, holder of the world’s fourth-biggest international reserves.

“It’s a question of conditions, systemic measures,” he said. “I believe that our European partners should define certain rules of interaction within their own community.”

The EU didn’t raise the issue of Cyprus during today’s talks with Russia, Barroso said.

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