Ukraine re-affirms commitment to EU deals despite Putin warning

Ukraine re-affirms commitment to EU deals despite Putin warning

PanARMENIAN.Net - Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich on Saturday, August 24 re-affirmed his commitment to signing key agreements with the European Union, including on trade, despite a threat by Russia's Vladimir Putin of possible retaliatory measures, Reuters said.

Russia, the ex-Soviet republic's biggest trading partner, last week signaled growing alarm at Kiev's policy of European integration by conducting laborious extra customs checks on imports from Ukraine, causing delays at the border.

Though Russia ended the customs checks after a few days, Putin last Thursday added to fears in Kiev of a possible trade war by saying that a free trade deal between Ukraine and the EU might "squeeze out" Russian goods.

He warned that members of the Eurasian Customs Union linking Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan might have to take "protective measures" to defend their markets.

In an Independence Day speech on Saturday, Yanukovich, once regarded as being more Russia-friendly than his nationalist predecessor Viktor Yushchenko, pointedly ignored Putin's comments.

While pledging to deepen relations with Russia and other customs union members, he indicated that Kiev was committed to signing agreements on political association and free trade with the EU at a summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in November.

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