Putin denies forcing Ukraine on EU integration decision
Moscow – Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied pressurising Ukraine to halt its integration with the European Union (EU).
“We are not against Ukraine’s sovereign choice, no matter what it is,” reported Xinhua citing Putin Thursday, adding that Moscow didn’t take “aggressive policy” against Kiev’s efforts to seek association with the EU.
He admitted that Ukraine’s integration with Europe posed economic threats because Ukraine and Russia were in a free trade zone.
Russia would object if Ukra! ine joins NATO, as the “advance of a foreign military bloc to Russia’s borders posed a threat to the country,” Putin said at a meeting of the Russian Literature Society.
Earlier in the day, the Ukrainian government decided to suspend its preparatory work for signing the association agreement with the EU, saying it needs time to consolidate its economic relations with the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Russia.
Kiev also proposed to set up a tripartite committee of Ukraine, Russia and the EU to settle the trade issues.
Ukraine’s intention to sign the EU deal has resulted in the deterioration of relations between Kiev and its eastern partners in recent months.
Russia has said it would impose trade restrictions to protect its market if Ukraine inked the EU deal.