Ukraine interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk put his country firmly in the Western camp Friday, signing the political provisions of a landmark association accord with EU leaders in defiance of Russia.
“Signing political part EU-Ukraine Association Agreement symbolises importance of relations (and) will to take it further,” EU president Hermann Van Rompuy said in a tweeted message.
The final deal, once signed, will cover issues as wide-ranging as economic integration, judicial reform and consumer rights to environmental protection.
Friday’s signing however was limited to three of seven chapters in the 1200-page document, as well as its preamble.
Ukraine took the step closer towards the EU after the European bloc and the US put in place sanctions on Russian figures close to President Vladimir Putin as punishment for Crimea’s annexation.
President Barack Obama announced the new round of punitive measures against 20 Russian lawmakers and senior government officials, in addition to 11 individuals already targeted.
Among those named were top businessmen close to President Vladimir Putin such as billionaires Gennady Timchenko, Arkady Rotenberg and Boris Rotenberg plus a bank used by close associates.
EU leaders slapped an asset freeze and travel ban on 12 more Russians and Ukrainians, bringing to 33 the number of figures targeted by the European bloc.
The dozen new figures were to be identified on Friday.