Russia’s economy felt the sting of the Ukrainian crisis Friday as a ratings agency cut its credit rating to near junk and Moscow hiked interest rates to keep its sliding ruble from fueling inflation. The impact could get harder as the West threatens additional sanctions. Still, Russia is showing no signs of backing down, saying Friday that pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine’s southeast will lay down their arms only if the Ukrainian government clears out nationalist protesters in Kiev, the capital. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, thousands of angry anti-government protesters clashed with police in a new eruption of violence following new maneuvering by Russia and the European Union to gain influence over this former Soviet republic. Demonstrators had seized Kiev City Hall on Dec. 1, 2014, about a week after mass street protests broke out in response to Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to abandon a long-anticipated political and economic treaty with the European Union. The president, whose support base is in the Russian-speaking east and south of the country, turned to Russia instead for loans to keep Ukraine’s economy afloat.
A Ukrainian Army helicopter flies over a column of Ukrainian Army combat vehicles on the way to the town of Kramatorsk on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. The central government has so far been unable to rein in the insurgents, who it says are being stirred up by paid operatives from Russia and have seized numerous government facilities in at least nine eastern cities to press their demands for broader autonomy and closer ties with Russia. (AP Photo/ Evgeniy Maloletka)
The body of Pavel Pavelco, 42, a pro Russia militiaman, one of three people killed last Sunday in a shooting by unknown gunmen at a checkpoint, is carried by pallbearers to a church during a funeral in Slovyansk, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
A Ukrainian riot police office watches a pro Ukrainian demonstration in Donetsk, Ukraine, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Top diplomats from the United States, European Union, Russia and Ukraine reached agreement after marathon talks Thursday on immediate steps to ease the crisis in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
A man wearing camouflage uniform holds a candle during the funeral of Volodymyr Topiy, 59, who was found burned in the house of trade unions in Kiev’s Independence Square during recent clashes with police, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Vladimir Putin ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops participating in military exercises near Ukraine’s border to return to their bases as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Kiev. Tensions remained high in the strategic Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with troops loyal to Moscow fired warning shots to ward off protesting Ukrainian soldiers. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A pair of boots sits on top of a barricade at the Independence Square, in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. Ukraine put its police on high alert after dozens of armed pro-Russia men stormed and seized local government buildings in Ukraine’s Crimea region early Thursday and raised a Russian flag over a barricade. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A local resident holds an Orthodox icon in front of an armored vehicle and soldiers of the Ukrainian Army, as they are blocked by people on their way to the town of Kramatorsk on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. Pro-Russian insurgents commandeered six Ukrainian armored vehicles along with their crews and hoisted Russian flags over them Wednesday, dampening the central government’s hopes of re-establishing control over restive eastern Ukraine. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
A bouquet is seen close to a bloodstain and a police evidence mark at pro Russia check point after a night fight between an unidentified masked man and pro-Russian activists in the village of Bulbasika near Slovyansk, Ukraine, Sunday, April 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
A boy rides a bicycle past a building with Russian and Ukrainian national flags and words reading “Ukraine had sold herself for dollars Russia” in Uspenka village, 4 kilometers (2.8 miles) to the Ukrainian-Russian border, Donbas region, Ukraine, Friday, April 18, 2014. Dashing hopes of progress raised by a diplomatic deal in Geneva, pro-Russian insurgents who have occupied government buildings in more than 10 Ukrainian cities said Friday they will not leave them until the country’s interim government resigns. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
A Ukrainian couple embrace during a pro Ukrainian demonstration in Donetsk, Ukraine, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Top diplomats from the United States, European Union, Russia and Ukraine reached agreement after marathon talks Thursday on immediate steps to ease the crisis in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
Former prime minister and presidential hopeful Yulia Tymoshenko, speaks to journalists after her press conference in Donetsk, Ukraine, Friday, April 18, 2014. Tymoshenko arrived Friday in Donetsk in a bid to defuse the tensions and hear “the demands of Ukrainians who live in Donetsk.” (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
The mother of Sigarov Alexander, 24, reaches for his body at a church during the funeral for three people killed last Sunday in a shooting by unknown gunmen at a checkpoint, in Slovyansk, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
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Lead Image Caption: Pro Russia militia carry a casket bearing Pavel Pavelko, 42, one of three pro Russia militiamen killed last Sunday in a shooting by unknown gunmen at a checkpoint, during his funeral procession in Alexandrovska village, 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from Slovyansk, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
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