Ukraine used the first meeting Monday of a landmark council with the EU to press for more financial support as it pushed ahead with reforms in the face of Russian "aggression."
"It is difficult for us to fight with a nuclear state which is armed to the teeth," Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said after the meeting.
Russia's intervention in eastern Ukraine and its March annexation of Crimea meant his country had lost 10 percent of its economic base, a huge challenge in any circumstances and doubly so when under pressure for reforms from Brussels, Yatsenyuk said.
His government had done what it could, Yatsenyuk said, "but to overcome this period Ukraine needs some sort of cushion and this cushion is new financial aid."
"We believe we will get this financial aid (so as) to make Ukraine a success story," he said.
Asked when he hoped to get it, he replied laconically: "Let me put it in a nutshell -- yesterday."
The European Union has offered Ukraine about 1.6 billion euros ($2 billion) in short-term assistance and put together a wider package worth about 11 billion euros but this money is tied to strict conditions that Kiev adopt tough social and economic reforms to remedy problems such as deep seated corruption and to bring it more into line with EU norms.
The International Monetary Fund has given Kiev about $17 billion and has estimated it probably needs another $15 billion in immediate funding.
An international donors conference has been mooted but no date set, with Ukraine's international partners all insisting on the need for accompanying reforms.
EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said Monday marked a key moment as both sides used the council to foster ties enshrined in a landmark Association Agreement and free trade deal.
Those accords were at the heart of the current crisis when then pro-Russia president Viktor Yanukovych ditched the deal late last year, sparking riots which led to his ouster.
The EU has adopted progressively tougher sanctions against Russia since its March annexation of Crimea sparked a conflict which has since claimed more than 4,600 lives.
- Mogherini to visit Ukraine -
Mogherini told a press conference with Yatsenyuk that October elections had given the Kiev government a real mandate for change, stressing that the EU would "remain at your side" and refuse to recognise Crimea's annexation.
Mogherini said the Commission was currently working on the latest extension of sanctions on individuals and groups linked to the Crimea annexation and they should be ready Thursday in time for an EU leaders summit
Mogherini visits Ukraine Tuesday and Wednesday. She has floated the idea of a trip to Russia as well but said separately she could give no firm date, suggesting the early months of 2015 might be possible.
Yatsenyuk earlier Monday met NATO head Jens Stoltenberg to urge Russia to implement in full a September ceasefire and peace accord signed between the rebels and Kiev with Moscow's backing.
Stoltenberg said the US-led military alliance supported that call, with Kiev clearly wanting a peaceful settlement to the conflict.