KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's leadership on Wednesday praised a Russia-financed bailout as a guarantee of financial stability, while opposition activists claimed the deal is likely to worsen economic troubles as the country's dependence on Moscow increases.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday pledged to buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian bonds and sharply cut the price of natural gas in an effort to relieve political pressure on Ukraine's embattled president, Viktor Yanukovych.

The Ukrainian economy risks a default next year, and over the past months Yanukovych has actively lobbied both Russia and the European Union for a financial life jacket.

His decision last month to opt for a deal with Russia triggered a wave of demonstrations that have crystallized into a large, round-the-clock protest camp in Independence Square in Kiev, the country's capital.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told a Cabinet meeting that the deal with Russia ensures "people's confidence in a stable life," while an association agreement with Europe would have given Ukraine a "New Year's present" of "bankruptcy and social collapse," according to the Interfax news agency.

The deal with Moscow, which apparently includes access to Russia's market and large orders for Ukraine's manufacturing industry, did little to appease the protesters, who have demanded that Yanukovych and Azarov resign and snap election be held in 2014.

It is unclear what Putin asked in return for his financial support, but reports suggest that Moscow wants Ukraine to purchase more natural gas and import Russian coal.

Putin said Tuesday that the two sides did not discuss Ukraine's joining the Moscow-led Customs Union, which includes Belarus and Kazakhstan and many Ukrainians feel is an attempt to resurrect the Soviet Union. Opposition critics fear that in bailing out Ukraine, Putin might have asked Yanukovych for a commitment to join the union in the future.

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  • A woman holds a statue of Jesus in front police officers as they block a street after clashes in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

  • A Ukrainian woman holds a statue of Jesus in front riot police as they stand guard during the on-going anti-government protests in central Kiev, Ukraine, on January 22, 2014. (Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

  • A police officer uses a shotgun during clashes with protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, early Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • A police officer detains a protester as a woman tries to defend him with a cross during clashes in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • A protester in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

  • A protester points a handgun during a clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

  • Protesters prepare to clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

  • A protester prepares to throw a Molotov cocktail during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman)

  • Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

  • Paramedics put a wounded man on a stretcher and into a medical vehicle to take him away from the scene of clashes between police and demonstrators in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

  • Pro-government hired thugs, referred to as "titushki" are captured by protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

  • Pro-government hired thugs, referred to as "titushki" are captured by protesters in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

  • A pro-European Union activist shouts slogans during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov, File)

  • A police officer beats a protester during clashes in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

  • Paramedics carry a wounded protestor on a stretcher away from clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Protesters throw tires onto a fire during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Police officers drag a protester during clashes in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Protesters throw tires onto a fire during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Protesters throw tires onto a fire during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Protesters clash with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • A protesters throws stone during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

  • Protesters throw tires onto a fire during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

  • A protesters throws a stone during clashes with police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

  • Pro-European Union activists gather during a rally in the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

  • Ukrainian lawmaker and chairman of the Ukrainian opposition party Udar (Punch), WBC heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, gestures while speaking to Pro-European Union activists during a rally in the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

  • Eugenia Tymoshenko, daughter of jailed Ukrainian former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko speaks to Pro-European Union activists during a rally in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

  • Pro-European Union activists shout slogans during a rally in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

  • Ukrainians wearing Cossack costumes and Pro-European Union activists attend a rally in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

  • A European Union flag flies above a crowd of Pro-European Union activists gather during a rally in the Independence Square in KIev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Pro-European Union activists shout slogans during a rally in the Independence Square, KIev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

  • Pro-European Union activists shout slogans during a rally in the Independence Square, KIev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

  • Pro-European Union activists shout slogans during a rally in the Independence Square, KIev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

  • A teenager waves a national flag over a crowd of Pro-European Union activists gathered during a rally in the Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Ukrainian people attend a mass rally called 'The March of a Million' on Kiev's Independence Square on December 8, 2013. (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • People shout slogans during a mass rally called 'The March of a Million' under the snow on Kiev's Independence Square on December 8, 2013. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • People gather on Kiev's Independence Square to attend a mass rally on December 8, 2013. (VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Riot police (second grond) guard at Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych office after a mass rally called 'The March of a Million' gathered on Kiev's Independence Square on December 8, 2013. Hundreds of thousands of pro-EU Ukrainians rallied in Kiev on December 8 for a new protest aimed at forcing Yanukovych to resign after he sparked fury by rejecting an EU pact under Kremlin pressure. (VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A Ukrainian man serves soup at a camp set up by opposition demonstrators on Kiev's Independence Square on December 8, 2013. (VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • People attend a mass rally called 'The March of a Million' under the snow on Kiev's Independence Square on December 8, 2013. (DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A protester raises her fist as people shout slogans during a mass rally entitled 'The March of a Million' on Kiev's Independence Square on December 8, 2013. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • People attend a mass rally called 'The March of a Million' under the snow on Kiev's Independence Square on December 8, 2013. (DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)