Ukraine 'Still Wants to Sign EU Deal
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Ukraine still intends to sign an historic trade pact with the European Union, but the country would first need a hefty economic aid package to offset punitive financial measures leveled against it by Russia, President Viktor Yanukovich has said.
Yanukovich had been due to sign the deal at Friday's EU summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. But he backed out last week, following pressure from Russia.
The former Soviet republic has been at the centre of a tug-of-war between Russia and the EU.
At the Vilnius summit, Yanukovich detailed Ukraine's economic woes, citing high prices for the Russian gas on which it is dependent.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe would provide Ukraine with natural gas in future, - although the bloc's current ability to do so for long periods is limited, should Moscow decide to turn off the taps.
"Unfortunately, Ukraine in the last while has turned out to be alone in dealing with serious financial and economic problems," he told European leaders.
"So today we need from our European partners decisive steps to be taken towards Ukraine to work out, and realise, a programme of financial-economic aid."
Yanukovych's government says Ukraine cannot afford to sacrifice trade with Russia for closer ties to the EU, Al Jazeera reported.
As Kiev intensified talks with Brussels in recent months, Russia imposed punishing trade sanctions.