Kiev told to dump ‘phobias,’ join customs union

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Wednesday urged Ukraine to get rid of its political phobias over accession to the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

“Sit down, calculate, weigh it up, get rid of various political phobias from the past, and look into the future,” Putin said at a news conference after a meeting of EurAsEC heads of government.

Russia has no intention of foisting anything on Ukraine, he said, and if Ukraine eventually decides to join, “we are ready to open direct dialogue on Ukraine’s accession.”

Kiev has declined to join the Customs Union, but said it could cooperate with the union under a ‘3+1’ scheme, which would not give it full membership – an option that has been rejected by Moscow.

Ukraine’s focus is on a free trade zone with the EU, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on Wednesday.

Kiev hoped to conclude free trade talks with the EU by the end of 2011. The free trade provision is expected to become a part of an association agreement with the EU. However, the EU may block the agreement after Ukraine’s ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison earlier this month on charges of abuse of office.


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