Russia Says It’s Ready for Talks on Ukraine-EU Deal

MOSCOW, November 30 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow is ready for trilateral talks with Kiev and Brussels on the consequences of the association agreements between Ukraine and the EU, a senior Russian diplomat said Saturday.

“We were not the ones who proposed or insisted on these talks, but if the European Union and Ukraine want us to discuss the economic consequences of the association to our trilateral relations, we are ready, in principle, to so,” Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Nebenzya said.

Ukraine has decided to suspend the planned signing of the association agreement and free trade deals with the EU at the two-day summit which was held on November 28-29 in Vilnius.

The Ukrainian government has cited significant economic losses because of shrinking trade volumes with Russia and other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, an alliance of former Soviet countries, as the reason for the decision.

Ukraine has instead proposed the creation of a trilateral commission between itself, Russia and the European Union to explore ways to deepen mutual ties.

However, EU leaders rejected the proposal on Friday saying that Europe does not need “a trilateral agreement for a bilateral deal.”

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych offered a glimmer of hope during the summit, when he told leaders that Ukraine was committed to European integration and intended to sign the agreements “in the near future.”

Russia says that it will introduce a harsh new customs regime with its smaller neighbor if the EU deal goes ahead.

A spate of rallies by pro-EU protesters took place across Ukraine over the past week.

Early on Saturday, riot police allegedly used “excessive force” to disperse a protest at the Independence Square in the capital Kiev. Dozens of protesters and at least 12 police officers were reportedly injured in violent clashes, which have already been condemned by Ukrainian government officials and opposition, as well as by a host of foreign countries.


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