Ukraine Signs Historic European Union Trade Deal Despite Russian Threats
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement in Brussels on Friday morning. Georgia and Moldova also signed similar agreements.
“Today is a historic day for Ukraine,” Poroshenko said before the meeting. “All we need is peace.”
This association agreement is what led to the crisis in Ukraine. Ousted Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych shelved the agreement to form closer ties with Moscow. After he announced his decision in November, pro-West Ukrainians started the Euromaidan protests in Kiev that lasted for three months. Yanukovych was ousted on February 22, and a pro-West government was formed.
"Over the last months, Ukraine paid the highest possible price to make her European dreams come true," said Poroshenko.
The agreement will allow Ukraine’s economy to reach 500 million EU citizens. It will also build the EU’s military power. Title II, Article 10, states, "The Parties shall explore the potential of military technological cooperation. Ukraine and the European Defence [sic] Agency (EDA shall establish close contacts to discuss military capability improvement, including technological issues."
Russia warned that Ukraine will face consequences if the agreement is signed. Russia has voiced concerns of EU and NATO buildups near its border. In 1997, NATO and Russia signed an agreement that NATO would not expand east, as long as Russia did not violate a country’s sovereignty. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said Russia went against the agreement when it annexed Crimea from Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the association agreement will hurt Russia's economy.
"In our opinion, our colleagues from the EU were unable to prove the 'advantages' of Association Agreements for East Partnership countries and Russia," said the Ministry in a statement. "We still believe that the signing of the Association Agreements with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia may harm the Russian economy due to disrupted cooperation and a downsizing of trade and economic relations with our neighbors."
Ukraine hopes to become a full member of the EU in the near future.
M.E. Synon contributed to this report.