Friday

24th Mar 2017

Putin warns Ukraine against EU pact

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Ukraine he will take "protective measures" if it signs an EU free trade pact.

Speaking on Thursday (22 August) at an economic forum in Rostov-on-Don, near Ukraine's eastern border with Russia, he said: "If our neighbours opt to significantly liberalise customs rules with the European Union, the Ukrainian market will inevitably be flooded with high quality goods … and Ukrainian goods will be forced out of the Ukrainian market."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Putin in Ukraine in July, banned Roshen chocolate after coming home (Photo: kremlin.ru)

He added: "Then, member states of the Customs Union will have to think about protective measures. Such a possibility exists."

The Customs Union includes Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

But Moscow wants to pull in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan as well and to transform it into an EU-type "Eurasian Union" in the coming years.

On the other side, the EU has offered to sign a political association and free trade pact with Ukraine in November if it improves rule of law.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov is due in Russia for talks on trade on Monday.

Putin's comments come in the wake of severe customs restrictions by Russian authorities between 14 and 20 August which caused a near standstill in Ukrainian road and rail imports.

Russia in July also banned Ukraine's top chocolate brand, Roshen, saying it caused cancer, while Kazakhstan on 20 August banned Ukrainian eggs.

An EU spokesman earlier this week said: "Any economic threat from Russia directed against Ukraine and linked with a possible signature of the association agreement with the EU is unacceptable."

But another risk is that Russia will interrupt gas supplies to Ukraine when its autumn/winter heating season begins in October, as it did in 2009, in a move which also hit eastern EU countries which depend on Ukrainian gas transit.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych is in a tricky spot.

If he goes against Putin, he risks losing the next elections due to pro-EU democratic reforms and Russian-inflicted economic pain.

But if he joins the Customs Union, he risks undermining Ukrainian sovereignty and giving Russian oligarchs a free hand in his country.

Opinion

Ukrainian PR: Beyond a paint job

Ukraine’s government recently allocated money for measures aimed at “encouraging” international media sources to say nice things about it.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  2. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  3. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  4. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  5. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  6. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  8. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  9. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  10. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  11. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  12. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted

Latest News

  1. MEPs set out to give posted workers equal pay
  2. Hohe Cyber-Bedrohung für Frankreichs Wahlen
  3. 'No zero terror risk', EU security commissioner warns
  4. UN could step in where EU fails in child migrant protection
  5. May: London attacker was known to the police
  6. Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save the EU
  7. Poland unlikely to face EU discipline on rule of law
  8. Rutte courted Wilders' voters, now he must deliver