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No secret deal on Ukraine joining Moscow-led Customs Union

Published time: December 07, 2013 10:07
Edited time: December 07, 2013 11:21
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych.(AFP Photo / Sergei Supinsky)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych.(AFP Photo / Sergei Supinsky)

Russia’s and Ukraine’s presidents have not discussed Kiev joining the Moscow-led Customs Union, Russian and Ukrainian officials said, denying earlier media reports to the contrary.

Vladimir Putin and Viktor Yanukovych held a brief meeting in Russian Sochi on Friday, as the Ukrainian president was returning from his visit to China. The two leaders discussed bilateral trade and other economic issues, but the prospect of Ukraine joining the Customs Union was not on the table, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Saturday.

He was commenting on a report in The Economist, which claimed that Yanukovych and Putin had reached a deal under which Ukraine would join the customs union that currently includes Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

A similar denial was published by the website of the Ukrainian president.

The British magazine’s International section editor, Edward Lucas, cited a reliable source as saying that Moscow had convinced Ukraine to join the union before 2015, when Yanukovych’s term in office ends.

In exchange, Moscow allegedly offered at least $5 billion of aid and a significant discount on the price of natural gas, which Ukraine buys from Russia, the report claimed.

Currently Kiev pays just over $400 per 1,000 cubic meters for Russian gas. It is about $100 less than what the standing contract stipulates, due to a discount, which Russia gave back in 2010 in exchange for prolonging the stationing of its Black Sea fleet in Ukrainian territorial waters. The price would be further dropped to $200 under the strategic agreement, the magazine claimed.

Gas trade was indeed discussed at the meeting, Peskov said. But the parties did not arrive at a solution to current differences on the issue. Putin and Yanukovych also discussed cooperation in aircraft building, shipbuilding and space industry and financial cooperation, Peskov added.

Russia is seeking regional economic integration through the Customs Union project, and wants Ukraine to be part of it. The union seeks to eradicate trade barriers and harmonize national regulations for its members. Kiev so far has showed no intention to join the union.

The Association Agreement with the EU, which Ukraine decided last month to suspend talks on signing, has similar objectives, but within the European Union. It would be nearly impossible for Ukraine to integrate both with the EU and with the Customs Union. The Ukrainian government maintains that its aspiration is to go westward, albeit on more favorable terms than what Brussels is offering now.

The failure to sign the EU deal sparked mass protests in Ukraine, with thousands of activists staging daily rallies in Kiev and other large cities. Many EU officials support the protest movement and criticize Ukrainian government for its last-minute U-turn. Russia has called on Europeans to keep their distance, and to let Ukrainians settle their differences on their own.

Comments (42)


Chris Makey 14.12.2013 18:21

Alex Zollkin 09.12.2013 13:36

"Logical American" or Illogical Dipshitz here is indeed a Tel Aviv based troll. His other Dipshitz troll family member is called Jere... the Zionist Lippshitz-Dipshitz from Berkeley.


Wow your the dipshit. Get a life you Piece or Sh t


Chris Makey 14.12.2013 18:18

About time a reasonable person. These people just want the Russians blackmailing them over Gas supply's. It's no lie, Putin held a figurative gun to their heads over gas They have decades of mistrust with the Russian government. Do you blame them? Maybe the way Putin deals with things is the problem. People don't like being treated third class. Why don't they both agree to both terms why can't Ukraine and Russia and the EU both deal with Ukraine on Ukrainians terms. Not the Russians. People saying send the Russian military into Kiev. That's just the mentality that's going to start the Third World war


Regula 08.12.2013 11:07

Russia said it right: this is for Ukraine to decide without the meddling by the EU and its delegate MP's. Given the difficult condition of Ukraine's economy, any decision will take time, as economic possibilities have to be tested and compared. Ukraine may be better off not joining either the EU or the Russian customs union at this time to leave the decision until conditions are such as to make a decision without jeopardizing the economy. The Ukrainian people should stop demonstrating without any knowledge of the true facts. It is easy to howl slogans, but very difficult to act if the economy goes into a tail spin.

View all comments (42)
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