Monday

15th Apr 2024

EU rebukes Russia on Ukraine trade

  • Freight train: Russia hopes to get Kiev into to the Eurasian Union by 2015, the leaked document says (Photo: thejaymo)

The European Commission has reprimanded Russia over its attempt to intimidate Ukraine on trade.

Its spokesman, John Clancy, said in a statement on Tuesday (20 August) that: "Any economic threat from Russia directed against Ukraine and linked with a possible signature of the association agreement with the EU is unacceptable."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Citing Russia's commitments as a member of the World Trade Organisation, he added it is "essential that the talks with the EU on a free trade area will not interfere with Ukrainian plans to develop constructive relations with the Customs Union and the Eurasian economic area [two Russian-led trade blocs]."

The EU complaint comes after Russia imposed new customs checks on Ukrainian imports between 14 August and 20 August, causing a standstill in rail and road freight.

Ukraine's customs ministry on Tuesday noted that: "The Russian side [has] assured [us] that as of today, additional customs control procedures do not apply."

But there are signs the mini trade war is not over yet.

Kazakhstan, Russia's partner, along with Belarus, in the Customs Union, the same day halted Ukrainian poultry imports on phytosanitary grounds.

The developments come three months before Ukraine hopes to sign a political association and free trade pact with the EU.

The signature is not a done deal because of EU concerns on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's jailing of political opponents.

But the pact is seen by both EU and Ukrainian diplomats as a way to pull the former Soviet republic out of Russia's sphere of influence and to put it on the road to future EU membership.

For his part, German centre right MEP Elmar Brok, one of Yanukovych's toughest critics in terms of democratic standards, said on Tuesday: "The EU, as a concerned party in the conflict, has to act to defend Ukraine."

Brok's statement, issued together with Polish centre-right deputy Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, added: "It is not at all a trade dispute, but a very serious political conflict with a geopolitical background."

A senior advisor to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Sergei Glazyev, earlier told press the trade blockade is designed to show Kiev what will happen if it takes the "suicidal" step of signing the EU agreement.

A Ukrainian trade federation said if Russia imposed the new checks permanently, it would cost its member companies €1.9 billion a year.

Tension in Ukrainian political circles increased this week due to a publication, by Ukrainian website Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, of a 10-page document it says is a Russian strategy paper on how to sabotage Ukraine's EU aspirations.

Its authenticity was lent weight by Volodymyr Ohryzko, a former Ukrainian foreign minister, who told the RFE/RFL news agency the paper proves "there is a systematic ideological, political, economic, and information war being waged against Ukraine."

The paper calls for Russian puppet organisations in Ukraine to counter pro-EU moves with a view to Kiev signing up to Russia's Customs Union by 2015.

Russians top EU asylum seekers

The EU saw the highest number of asylum seekers come from Russia at the beginning of this year, with Syrians following closely behind.

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.

Latest News

  1. EU puts Sudan war and famine-risk back in spotlight
  2. EU to blacklist Israeli settlers, after new sanctions on Hamas
  3. Private fears of fairtrade activist for EU election campaign
  4. Brussels venue ditches far-right conference after public pressure
  5. How German police pulled the plug on a Gaza conference
  6. EU special summit, MEPs prep work, social agenda This WEEK
  7. EU leaders condemn Iran, urge Israeli restraint
  8. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us