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Ukraine says good-bye to EU, hello to Russia

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Staff writer ▼ | November 21, 2013
Ukraine's government announced it was suspending preparations for a trade pact with the European Union and said it would renew active dialogue with Russia to help its economy.
Ukraine
UkraineUkraine's government announced it was suspending preparations for a trade pact with the European Union and said it would renew active dialogue with Russia to help its economy.


A diplomatic turnaround, the government order, came just one week before President Viktor Yanukovich was due to sign an agreement on trade and cooperation with the European Union which would mark a pivotal shift westwards for the ex-Soviet republic's 46 million people, away from historic ally Moscow.

The order issued by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said the government was suspending preparations for concluding the agreement with the EU "with the aim of adopting measures to ensure national security". Ukraine has been concerned that a punitive Russian trade response could hurt its economy.

The order added that Kiev would "renew active dialogue" with Russia, other members of a Moscow-led customs union and the Commonwealth of Independent States, a grouping of former republics of the Soviet Union.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the European Union still wanted a friendly relationship with Ukraine despite its withdrawal from a trade pact with the bloc, but it was now up to Kiev to decide how to proceed.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said that Russia welcomed Kiev's desire to improve trade ties with Moscow, signalling satisfaction with a Ukrainian government decision to suspend preparations for a landmark trade pact with the European Union.

"We welcome the desire to improve and develop trade and economic cooperation," Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov said. He called Ukraine a "close partner" and said Russia would respect any decision it made about the EU deal.


 

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