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President Viktor Yanukovych has said he is only suspending not cancelling Ukraine’s planned deal on closer ties with the EU, and still intends to sign up at a later date.

He was speaking after he vetoed last-minute attempts by the European Union to rescue an agreement that would have signalled a historic shift away from Russia.

The president expanded on comments made on his website, where he said several crucial steps needed to be made before the country was ready to enter into an association accord.

“There is no change to our plans. We think (we can sign) once we get down to work and find solutions for economic problems, when we get the opportunity to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Russia and everything else that we need to do, so that normal relations can be established between the European Union, Russia, and Ukraine… this is our responsibility,” he told reporters.

Previously Yanukovych had rejected an offer by the European Union to lend Ukraine 610 million euros as inadequate, saying the country would need up to 20 billion euros a year to bring its economy into line with European standards.

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