Russian, Ukrainian Presidents To Discuss Ukraine’s Integration In Europe

MOSCOW, Russia -- Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich are expected to hold talks Thursday on the sidelines of a summit of the Supreme Eurasian Economic council that will be held in the Belarusian capital Minsk, Putin’s aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters Monday night.

Vladimir Putin (R) and Viktor Yanukovych

"The agenda of these talks is very broad," he said.

Ushakov confirmed that one of the issues the two presidents will take up concerns the choice between the associated membership of the EU and participation in the integration processes as part of the CIS Customs Union, which Ukraine is expected to make very soon.

"I think this problem overshadows all other aspects of our relationship and, quite naturally, the two Presidents will take it up in one way or another," he said.

Ukraine may sign the agreement on association with the EU at a summit meeting of the so-called Eastern Partnership in Vilnius next month.

The process of Ukraine’s integration in the EU has turned into a cornerstone problem of Russian-Ukrainian relations in recent months.

Moscow has said many a time that Ukraine will lose the preference in has in trade with Russia now after it gets associated membership of the EU.

President Putin, for instance, said in early October that the Russian government would have to take decisions on protecting its national market if Ukraine signed the association agreement.

In addition, Ukraine will not be able to become a full-fledged member of the Customs Union embracing Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan at present.

Source: Voice of Russia