Any retaliatory moves by Russia over Ukraine’s planned trade pact with the EU would be illegal, a leading group of MEPs said on Wednesday.
The European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee passed a motion urging Moscow to respect the Ukrainian government’s choice to forge closer ties with Brussels.
The Kremlin has raised the possibility of taking punitive measures against Kiev if the agreement goes ahead as planned at a summit in Lithuania this November.
Germany MEP Elmar Brok said: “A decision to sign the agreement with the European Union is only up to Kiev, not to Moscow and not to Brussels. This was a very broad agreement in our committee today. And therefore this Russian behaviour is just not acceptable.”
Russia has indicated that Ukraine would lose its “strategic partner” status if the association agreement is signed with the 28-member bloc.
For Kiev, it would go some way to mending ties with the EU, which have been frayed by the jailing of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.
Vitali Klitschko, leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms, told reporters after the meeting in Brussels that “Ukraine must sign the Association Agreement.”
“I understand that there are debates whether or not release Tymoshenko. The responsibility for these actions is currently on the state leadership,” he said.
Any punitive tariffs enacted by Russia would hit Ukraine’s export-driven economy hard; more than 60 percent go to the former Soviet market.