MOSCOW (AP) -- In his first reaction to the Ukraine crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to consider humanitarian assistance to the Russian-speaking region of Crimea and talk to the West about bailing out Ukraine.
The move was announced by Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in a statement carried by Russian news agencies Thursday. No further details were provided except that assistance to Crimea could be offered by some Russian provinces.
Following Western calls on the Kremlin to join efforts to help Ukraine avoid a default, Putin asked the government to talk to the International Monetary Fund and others about financial aid for Ukraine.
Ukraine's fugitive president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled Kiev after protests were triggered by his decision to spike a pact with the EU and forge closer ties with Moscow.