EU looks to reassure Russia on Ukraine trade deal
Brussels: Ukraine, Russia and the European Union sat down Friday for a first round of talks intended to reassure Moscow on the consequences of tighter trade links between Kiev and Brussels.
Late last month, Ukraine and the EU signed a long-delayed Association Agreement -- the very deal whose last-minute refusal last year by then president Viktor Yanukovych plunged the country into chaos.
The agreement opens up Ukraine to EU imports. Moscow worries this will also allow cheap European products to flood into Russia, which has its own free-trade deal with Kiev.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said the parties agreed to address Russia`s concerns at a high level over the coming weeks, with a new ministerial meeting set for September 12.
"All parties agreed to engage in this process in good faith," De Gucht said after the talks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klymkin and Russia`s Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev.
After the meeting, Ulyukayev said the association deal carried "dangers for the Russian economy," but that the parties had agreed on a framework for more talks.
Moscow has announced trade measures against Kiev, including a ban on dairy imports, since the EU deal was signed amid ongoing battles between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in the restive east.
Brussels has also brokered talks over a bitter gas-price dispute between Kiev and Moscow that has threatened to stop the flow of energy from Russia to the EU.
Separately on Friday, Brussels slapped a travel ban and asset freeze on 11 people allegedly linked to the violence in eastern Ukraine, bringing the total number of people on the EU`s sanctions blacklist to 72.