Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday it was the European Union and not Russia that was putting pressure on Ukraine, after the ex-Soviet country scrapped plans to sign a key trade deal with the bloc. "We've heard threats from our European partners against Ukraine –- up to the point of helping them stage mass protests," Putin said, seeking to counter EU accusations that Ukraine ditched the deal after pressure from the Kremlin. "This is pressure. This is blackmail. And whether Ukraine and the Ukrainian leadership bow to this blackmail will be clear in the coming days."