News / Europe

Ukraine PM Seeks to Calm Russian Fears Over EU Deals

Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov (file photo)
Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov (file photo)
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Ukraine's prime minister sought on Saturday to calm Russian fears over Kyiv's plans to sign a free trade pact with the European Union, saying in practice there would be no threat to Russia's home market.
    
Moody's Investor Service cut Ukraine's sovereign credit rating on Friday, partly on concern over relations with Russia.
    
Speaking at an international conference in the Black Sea resort of Yalta, Mykola Azarov also expressed frustration at Russia's refusal to reduce the price of its gas sales to the ex-Soviet republic and said Kyiv may be obliged to reduce further the volume of its gas imports.
    
Azarov's government approved plans this week to sign landmark agreements in November with the EU on political association and free trade - drawing new threats of retaliation from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    
Russia says it fears its market could be flooded by competitive EU goods entering Ukraine free of import duties and being re-exported across the long border with Russia. It says it will introduce counter-measures to mitigate damage and has invited Kyiv to join a Russian-led customs union.
    
In the latest expression of Kremlin unhappiness, an aide to Putin told the Yalta gathering that Ukraine would face huge financial problems if it signed the agreements and he urged the Kyiv leadership to hold a people's ballot on the issue.
    
Saying 40 percent of Ukrainians were against the signing, Sergei Glazyev, who has made hawkish comments about Ukraine's pro-Europe policy before, said "Let us ... ask the Ukrainian people what choice they prefer."
    
Azarov, in his speech, dismissed the threat of illegal transit of EU goods into Russia as "hypothetical" and one which in practice would not happen.
    
"We are convinced that the signing [of the agreements with the EU] does not hold any risks [for Russia]," he said, adding that he would give personal assurances of this to Russia and its trade allies in the Moscow-led Customs Union.
    
But he had sharper words for Russia over its refusal to bring down the price of gas supplies to Ukraine which hangs heavily on the country's cash-strapped economy.
    
Ukraine pays what it sees as an exorbitant price of more than $400 per thousand cubic meters under a 2009 contract which Russia has refused to revise despite pleas by the Azarov government.
    
In a bid to break away from reliance on Russia, Ukraine is trying to secure alternative energy sources by stepping up domestic gas production, reaching shale gas and off-shore deals with Western companies, and possibly bringing in liquefied gas from foreign suppliers.
    
Azarov said Ukraine was pressing ahead with "a serious restructuring" of its energy policy to diversify energy sources.
    
"Over 3 1/2 years we have reduced our purchases of Russian gas from 41 billion cubic meters to 25 billion and we are frankly telling our Russian partners that if the contract, which they managed to acquire in 2009, is not re-drafted, changed, then we will go even further down the road of reducing purchases of Russian gas," he said.
    
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich on Friday re-iterated that Kyiv was committed to signing the key agreements with the EU at a late November summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, marking a pivotal shift away from its former Soviet master Russia towards integration with Europe.
    
But he refused to say whether he would free from prison his political rival, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who the EU says is a victim of "selective justice."
    
Tymoshenko was jailed in 2011 for seven years for abuse of office after a trial which she says was a vendetta by Yanukovich, and her continued imprisonment could still threaten the signing of agreements in Vilnius.
    
Moody's cut Ukraine's sovereign debt rating by one notch to Caa1 from B3, citing concerns over foreign currency reserves, new debt issuance and potentially worsening ties with Russia.
    
Moody's said it welcomed the forthcoming EU trade pact as positive overall for Ukraine in the medium term, but added: "The short-term credit negative impact of a negative reaction by Russia outweighs these benefits."

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid