EU Suspends Work with Ukraine on Trade Deal – Official

MOSCOW, December 15 (RIA Novosti) – The European Union has put on hold work with Ukraine on a trade and cooperation agreement, EU enlargement chief Stefan Fuele has said.

The Ukrainian government’s arguments “have no grounds in reality,” Fuele said on Twitter. The remarks come after Fuele’s talks with Ukraine's first deputy prime minister Serhiy Arbuzov last week in Brussels.

"After that further discussion is conditioned on clear commitment to sign. Work on hold, had no answer," Fuele said.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov's spokesman Vitaliy Lukyanenko said the Ukrainian government remains committed to signing the agreement.

Kiev “would take into account only official statements on behalf of the European Union and will respond only to such statements,” Lukyanenko said.

“For today, the official European Union stance remains unchanged: the door to the association with EU remains open,” he said.

Kiev turned its back on a widely expected association deal last month, saying it would harm economic relations with Russia, prompting mass demonstrations by pro-EU protesters and throwing the country into a political crisis. Last Wednesday, Azarov said Kiev would return to talks on the association agreement with the EU in the spring.

Both the EU and Moscow have accused the other of using strong-arm tactics to secure economic ties with Kiev.

A senior Russian lawmaker Alexei Pushkov said on Sunday that “Yanukovych and Azarov had all reasons to reject the agreement.

“The meagre [aid] package proposed by the EU to Ukraine is nothing for any normal country. It’s an attempt to colonize Ukraine for 660 million euro [$907 million],” he said.

Pushkov, who heads the State Duma’s international affairs committee, said Fuele’s words demonstrated intentions by certain European politicians to have Yanukovych removed from his post.

“Previously, Yanukovych was considered as a possible partner in [association] talks, but now he is seen as an evident political rival, who must be pushed into resigning,” Pushkov said.

He described Fuele’s statement as a possible sign that a group of European politicians who had taken a harsh stance against Yanukovych and his government, has prevailed over those in favor of additional financial assistance of $20 billion to encourage Ukraine to sign the deal.


Updates with comments from Ukrainian government, Russian lawmaker