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Despite Moscow’s concerns, Kiev signs EU pact
June 27, 2014, 1:59 pm

Poroshenko called the trade pact a historic event for Ukraine, but analysts warn a political rift with Russia could widen [Xinhua]

Poroshenko called the trade pact a historic event for Ukraine, but analysts warn a political rift with Russia could widen [Xinhua]


In a move that has already angered Russia, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko arrived in Brussels yesterday to sign a critical trade pact with the European Union.

Poroshenko effectively reversed a decision by his predecessor Viktor Yanukovych, who walked away from the pact in November.

“This is one of the most important days in the time since Ukraine won independence. We use this possibility to modernize the country. But we need only one thing — peace and security,” a statement from Poroshenko’s office said.

Yanukovych’s decision sparked massive deadly protests in Ukraine and eventually led to the Russian annexation of Crimea off the Black Sea. Tensions remain high as the Ukraine military battles secessionists in the country’s east.

Hoping to assuage Russian concerns EU President Herman Van Rompuy stressed that “There is nothing in these agreements or in the European Union’s approach that might harm Russia in any way.”

The Russian Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin as saying that there would be serious consequences in response to the pact.

But a later statement from presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov appeared toned down.

He said that Russia would respond to the EU-Ukraine accord “as soon as negative consequences arise for the economy”.

Analysts have said that the economic impact of the Ukraine-EU trade pact will have minimal impact on Russia’s economy.

But, they warned, Moscow is concerned that the trade pacts are a means to EU expansionism into former Soviet territory.

The EU on Friday also signed similar trade pacts with former Soviet republics Moldova and Georgia.

Dmitry Bolkunets, an economist at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, believes that the trade pacts are “first and foremost political”.

Quoted in the Moscow Times, Bolkunets said: “This agreement is about the European projects of former Soviet republics, of which Russia does not approve. This is about the ability of Ukraine and other former Soviet republics to engage in independent policy-making. Economics is a secondary concern here.”

Moscow is expected to engage in trilateral talks with Brussels and Kiev to discuss the Ukraine-EU trade pact and present its concerns.

“We have lots of questions, the Russian side has handed over a special note about its concerns,” deputy foreign minister Alexei Meshkov said in remarks carried by the ITAR-TASS news agency..

“Finally agreement has been reached today on a trilateral format, a meeting at the level of technical experts is possible literally today or tomorrow,” he was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Earlier this week, President Vladimir Putin called on the Russian Parliament to rescind an earlier resolution authorizing the use of the country’s armed forces in Ukraine.

The move appears to have come following Poroshenko’s announcement last week to peacefully resolve the conflict in eastern regions, by offering a unilateral ceasefire and calling on the rebels to lay down arms and start peace talks with the government in Kiev.

The UN says more than 420 people have been killed in the region since April.

In mid-June, Putin called for a national dialogue in Ukraine to end hostilities.

Source: Agencies

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